April 29, 2021

Cardin Says Investing in Clean Water is an Investment in Protecting Public Health

“This bipartisan legislation takes important steps toward maintaining critical infrastructure networks and shoring up America’s aging drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure against the costly threat of climate change.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure (Environment and Public Works Committee) praised Senate passage today of S. 914, Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021. The package, which passed by a bipartisan 89-2, authorizes more than $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater projects across the country, with a focus on upgrading aging infrastructure, addressing the threat of climate change, investing in new technologies, and providing assistance to marginalized communities. The bill was approved unanimously last month by the EPW Committee.

“Every resident in every community – in urban, rural, Tribal, and suburban neighborhoods – has a right to expect that the water coming from their tap is safe and affordable to drink and dispose of. Clean water produces better public health outcomes and good jobs, throughout Maryland and nationwide,” Senator Cardin said after passage.

“We have demonstrated that clean water is not a partisan issue. I have been proud to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to improve our aging water resources and infrastructure. This bipartisan legislation takes important steps toward maintaining critical infrastructure networks and shoring up America’s aging drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure against the costly threat of climate change. At the same time, we will help communities meet public health standards without cost-burdening customers who cannot afford to pay more for water services. The faster we act to make our water systems affordable and resilient to climate change impacts, the more we can reduce risks and control costs. There is no better investment than protecting public health through our water infrastructure.

“I am also proud of my work with Senators Wicker and Stabenow to establish new pilot programs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will award grants to 40 communities to help low-income households pay their drinking water or wastewater bills. The new EPA pilot program will be dedicated to helping individuals in need stay current on their water and wastewater bills, and benefit from a comprehensive low-income water customer needs assessment. This will help ensure access to affordable water services, as well as maintain critical water infrastructure and meet public health standards in Maryland and elsewhere.

“The Drinking Water & Wastewater Infrastructure Act also includes two programs to create new resiliency grants for water systems and treatment works to increase their ability to withstand hazards, including extreme weather and cybersecurity attacks. I co-authored this climate provision with Ranking Member Capito to benefit our neighboring states of Maryland and West Virginia, both of which face increasingly heavy rains. This Clean Water Infrastructure Resiliency & Sustainability Program will help wastewater treatment plants and more drinking water systems increase their resiliency and adaptability to increasingly severe storms and droughts, as well as sea level rise – all driven by climate change.

For the first time, the American Society of Civil Engineers scored stormwater infrastructure individually in its annual report card for infrastructure, which received a grade of “D” for 2021. The report found that federal funding averages $250 million annually, which leaves a growing annual funding gap of $8 billion. Urban and suburban stormwater runoff is the fastest-growing source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. S. 914 creates a grant program to assist research institutions, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education with research on new and emerging stormwater control technology. The goal of the program is to improve the effectiveness, cost efficiencies, and protections of public safety and water quality in their operations.”

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