Press Release

March 18, 2011

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin
(D-MD), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a bipartisan group lead by
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and
Bob Corker
(R-TN) introduced the
Water for the World Act late yesterday, a bill that bill builds on the success of the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act by placing clean water in the forefront of America’s development priorities, seeking to reach 100 million people around the world with sustainable first time access to clean water and sanitation within six years of enactment.

“Clean and safe water is essential for life, but one in eight of the world's population does not have access to it, affecting their health, incomes, livelihoods, access to education and security. This particular burden weighs most heavily on women in the developing world, who often support entire families and communities. I am proud the Senate is acting to reprioritize this critical development and human rights issue,” said
Senator Cardin, who also serves as Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Water Subcommittee.

Almost one billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water and two of every five people live without basic sanitation services. Rapid industrialization, climate change, and population and economic growth will continue to put pressure on global water supplies, particularly in developing nations.  Such water issues can no longer been seen as isolated problems, but must instead be viewed as factors contributing to regional tensions, global health, child and maternal mortality, and economic growth. 

The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 made access to safe water and sanitation for developing countries a specific policy objective of the United States Foreign Assistance Program. The Act was named after the late Paul Simon, who ten years ago wrote the book,
Tapped Out, which warned of the world’s looming clean water crisis.

Water for the Poor Act already made a difference in the world: last year alone the U.S. helped provide nearly 2 million people with first time access to an improved source of drinking water and more than 1.5 million people to improved sanitation.

Building on the progress achieved through the
Water for the Poor Act, the Paul Simon Water for the World Act was first introduced in March of 2009. That bill passed the Senate in the fall of 2010, but failed to pass the House of Representatives.

With the goal of reaching 100 million people with first time access to clean drinking water and sanitation, the 
Water for the World Act would do the following:

  • Target underdeveloped countries with focused initiatives to improve access to clean water and sanitation;
  • Foster global cooperation on research and technology development, including regional partnerships among experts on clean water;
  • Provide technical assistance and capacity-building to develop expertise within countries facing water and sanitation challenges;
  • Provide seed money for the deployment of clean water and sanitation technologies; and  
  • Strengthen the human infrastructure at USAID and the State Department to implement clean water and sanitation programs effectively and to ensure that water receives priority attention in our foreign policy efforts.

Water for the World Act represents a robust U.S. contribution to the Millennium Development Goal on water, which is to reduce by 50 percent the proportion of the world population without safe water and sanitation by 2015.

A fact sheet on the bill is attached.