Washington DC Update - August 2020

Scott Berry, Policy Director, US Water Alliance | August 27, 2020

Washington lawmakers began August with three tall orders to fill. As unemployment hangs in the double digits, the need for another package of COVID-19 relief is growing more pronounced and key provisions of previous bills are expiring. And, with the September 30th deadline fast approaching, annual spending bills remain unfinished. And, looming just after the election, raising the debt ceiling will be a key need. Despite this consequential to-do list, Congress opted for a limited legislative schedule with long breaks in August and early September. That leaves only a few remaining months before a critical election for each party to act and make the case to the American for why their party deserves the mandate to govern. | More >

Investing in Water Infrastructure: Exponential Potential and the Cost of Inaction

Katie Henderson- Value of Water Campaign | August 26, 2020

A hidden network of pipes and pumps ensure water flows through homes and businesses, but people often take these critical systems for granted. This month, our organizations, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Value of Water Campaign (VOW), partnered on a new economic report that quantifies water infrastructure investment and what happens when the nation fails to invest. With the research firm EBP, we sought to understand two contrasting futures: a future where we meet our water infrastructure needs and a future where we allow water infrastructure investment to fall further and further behind. | More >

US Water Prize for Outstanding Cross-Sector Partnership: Flint Community Lab

US Water Alliance | August 20, 2020

In the wake of the water crisis that began in 2014 and exposed tens of thousands to toxic lead levels, many Flint, MI residents were left not knowing who to trust about the safety of their water. In 2018, two organizations, Flint Development Center, a community center located in a former elementary school, and Freshwater Future, an established organization dedicated to the protection of the Great Lakes, stepped up to address this challenge of trust. The organizations created the Flint Community Lab. The Lab began as a summer pilot program with 15 teens and aimed to both inspire local youths to get involved in their city’s water issues, and to provide accurate information to residents about the water that serves them. Because of its unique strategy of engaging youth to address one of the most high-profile water issues in America, the Flint Community Lab has earned the US Water Prize for Cross Sector Partnership  | More >

US Water Prize for Outstanding Private Sector Organization: Marriott International

US Water Alliance | August 20, 2020

Water is essential to every facet of America’s hotels—from the cooking of guests’ meals and cleaning linens and towels to hotel pools and air conditioning systems. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, hotel water usage accounts for approximately 15 percent of the nation’s commercial and industrial water use. Marriott International is a visionary leader addressing water challenges in the hotel industry and for that leadership earned the 2020 US Water Prize for Outstanding Private Sector Organization.   | More >

US Water Prize for Outstanding Nonprofit Organization: Iowa Soybean Association

US Water Alliance | August 20, 2020

Established in 1964, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), the largest soybean association in the nation, was founded “by farmers to serve farmers. Water management can be a challenging issue in Iowa, particularly when it comes to agricultural landscape practices. To overcome this, ISA has emerged as a One Water champion, exploring and promoting water management practices that benefit farmers, watersheds, and the people who live within Iowa’s watersheds. ISA’s leadership in building bridges between the agricultural community and other key water stakeholders in Iowa has earned the organization the US Water Prize for Outstanding Nonprofit Organization.   | More >

US Water Prize for Outstanding Public Sector Organization: Denver Water

US Water Alliance | August 20, 2020

Across the country, water and wastewater utilities are facing myriad challenges ranging from inadequate investment to the strain put on aging water system by climate impacts and extreme weather. Denver Water, the largest water provider in Colorado with 1.5 million customers, illustrates that utilities have the capacity to innovate and rise to these challenges. For its leadership, Denver Water is the 2020 recipient of the US Water Prize for Outstanding Public Sector Organization  | More >

US Water Prize for Outstanding Public Official: Senator Ben Cardin

US Water Alliance | August 20, 2020

Over his long career in Congress, Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland has proven time and time again that he is a champion for America’s water. An advocate for the environment, and especially his home-state Chesapeake Bay, Senator Cardin has introduced legislation to restore the health of America's great water bodies and is a leading proponent of investing in improvements to America's aging water and wastewater infrastructure system. For his tireless work on behalf of the nation’s water, Senator Ben Cardin is the recipient of the 2020 US Water Prize for Outstanding Public Official.  | More >

US Water Prize for Outstanding Journalism: Jose A. Del Real, The New York Times

US Water Alliance | August 20, 2020

Jose Del Real has dedicated his work in recent years to bringing to light water access inequities in America. Writing for The New York Timeshe explored long-standing prejudices in California’s Central Valley, making the case through his reporting for everyone to have access to clean water regardless of their background or socio-economic status. For this important coverage, Jose Del Real has earned the 2020 US Water Prize for Outstanding Journalism.   | More >

Washington DC Update - July 2020

Scott Berry, Policy Director, US Water Alliance | July 31, 2020

July had quite a bit of activity on the legislative front, with a shrinking number of working days left before the approaching election. Early on, the House passed their $1.5 trillion infrastructure package. This large bill is based in part on a $760 billion infrastructure framework unveiled in January by House Democrats. Parts of that as well as more recent legislation on surface transportation, energy, and other infrastructure were stitched together into a larger master proposal that lays down a clear marker of where Democrats want to go in the infrastructure space. The package (prior to amendments) would invest $25 billion into the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), including a new program to assist drinking water systems with projects related to removing emerging contaminants like PFAS. On the wastewater side, the bill would invest $40 billion in the Clean Water SRF. The bill also exempts water and sewer projects from the state allocation cap on private activity bonds, potentially unlocking billions in private investment in water infrastructure.  | More >

As Waters Rise, So Must We. New Report Calls for Equitable Solutions to Urban Flooding

Katy Lackey, Senior Program Manager, US Water Alliance | July 15, 2020

Flooding is the most common, costly, and deadly disaster we face. Over 30 million Americans already live in high-risk flood zones and flooding costs our nation more than $8 billion every year. Climate change is making this worse. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a highly active hurricane season this year. Beyond extreme events, however, some studies estimate localized flooding events have increased more than 300 percent in recent years. Historical redlining practices and a lack of infrastructure investment have placed Black and Brown communities and low-income populations in low-lying areas and areas that flood more frequently. As our nation grapples with a changing climate, we must address these inequities. Utilities – and all water stakeholders – have a key role to play in this endeavor. | More >