Washington DC Update - May 2020

Scott Berry, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, US Water Alliance | May 28, 2020


The Senate has been back in session since last week, and one of the first things they took up in Committee was the unanimous advancement of a pair of water bills. These were the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act. America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 is the 2020 version of what used to be called the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, which Congress considers now on a two-year cycle. The bulk of these pieces of legislation are typically water resources project for the US Army Corps of Engineers but the last several cycles have had growing portions focused water/wastewater. The 2018 version of this legislation dealt more on the drinking water side, and during the process of crafting the 2020 bill, congressional staff expressed interest, especially on the Senate side, in keeping the 2020 bill more focused on the wastewater side.

In the Senate, a single committee deals with Drinking Water and Wastewater issues whereas in the House it is split between two committees. In the interest of expediting the legislative process, keeping AWIA 2020 just USACE and Wastewater meant only a single committee in the House would be needed to work with the Senate, which is much farther along than the House this cycle. If there was enough support on the Senate side for drinking water legislation, it would move at the same time, but in a separate bill – hence the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act. | More >

Small Water System Infrastructure Must Be Part Of Our Country's COVID Recovery

Nathan Ohle, RCAP CEO & Radhika Fox, US Water Alliance CEO | May 27, 2020

Every community – big and small, rural and urban – relies on water. Water is a public health and sanitation issue, as well as economic, agricultural, and recreational issue. No community can thrive without access to water. While most people in the United States can access water without concerns about its safety or affordability, many communities struggle daily to access clean, safe, affordable water.

Of the approximately 150,000 public water systems in the United States, more than 97 percent serve small communities of 10,000 or fewer people. Smaller communities and the smaller water systems that serve them have unique challenges and perspectives, as well as valuable relationships and a collaborative spirit that can serve every community well during a crisis. On a national level, leaders need to embrace that attitude and work to ensure every community – whether it has a population of a hundred or a hundred thousand - has access to safe, affordable, and reliable water. | More >

Thanks, Kevin!

Emily Simonson, Senior Manager, Strategy and Special Projects, US Water Alliance | May 18, 2020

Dear Kevin Jhingory (Sewer Services Foreman at DC Water),

People show their appreciation for essential workers a lot these days. We post signs in our windows, start clapping at a certain time every day, are (hopefully) kinder to the ones we happen to encounter—and, no doubt, we have a lot to thank them for!  

But when you shared your story on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation webinar, you reminded all of us watching that most people don’t really think about those who keep water flowing in and out of our homes safely. So, not that you asked for gratitude, but sincerely on behalf of the many listeners who were so moved by your story: thank you! We recognize and appreciate you. | More >

Washington DC Update - April 2020

Scott Berry, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, US Water Alliance | April 28, 2020

April was a tumultuous month in DC. With the passage of Phase 3 of the federal government’s relief efforts in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis at the end of March, focus turned to what would be next. Early in the month, discussions for an infrastructure focused Phase 4 started to heat up. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) discussed the House Democrats’ targets, which included passing a large infrastructure package. The basis for this was to be the sweeping $760 billion infrastructure framework unveiled in January by House Democrats. This framework included more than $75 billion combined for clean water and drinking water infrastructure programs. Also included is a new funding vehicle, called the Low-Income Household Drinking Water Wastewater Assistance Program, that would give states and tribes the ability to obtain grants to assist low-income households in paying their drinking water and wastewater utility bills. Funded at $1.5 billion, the new program is modeled after the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also called for an infrastructure bill "but it has to be big, bold, pro-worker, and green." | More >

Back to Basics on Earth Day 2020 – Healthy Watersheds and Climate Security

Katy Lackey, Senior Program Manager, US Water Alliance and Diana Toledo, Leadership Development Director, River Network | April 22, 2020

Fifty years ago, the world celebrated Earth Day for the first time. Over 20 million people hit the streets demanding action for environmental protection and a “new way forward for our planet.”  A year earlier, in 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to a thick oil slick and smog. Though it was not the first time – nor the only river to do so – this event sparked unprecedented levels of public attention to water quality issues across the nation, ultimately coalescing around the authorization of the Clean Water Act in 1972. In the 50 years since, we have made a great deal of progress as a nation. But these days, it can be difficult to think back  50 days ago, let alone to what the next 50 years can bring. | More >

A Principled Approach to Post-Pandemic Utility Consolidation

Emily Simonson, Senior Manager, Strategy and Special Projects, US Water Alliance | April 15, 2020

Coronavirus is shining a big, bright light on disparities that existed long before the pandemic. We see disparities in health risks and mortality, hospital capacity, and who gets to keep their job. At the Alliance, we also see disparities in which water systems can most effectively adopt emergency measures to keep essential operations running smoothly and safely in this unprecedented context  | More >

COVID-19 Relief and Recovery: Guiding Principles to Secure Our Water Future

Radhika Fox, CEO, US Water Alliance | April 7, 2020

Read the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery: Guiding Principles to Secure Our Water Future.  | More >

Washington Update

Scott Berry, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, US Water Alliance | March 31, 2020

After days of negotiation, Republicans and Democrats agreed on a compromise package of relief related to the COVID-19 crisis. After a harrowing 24 hours where Senators from both parties threatened to object to the package before ultimately passing it, and where members of the House similarly threatened to hold up passage in that chamber, the bill was ultimately passed and signed by the president. While this was happening, the weekly unemployment report was released, indicating that a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment.  | More >

Strategies for Bringing Water and Sanitation Access to the Most Vulnerable: Congressional Briefing

Zoë Roller, Program Manager, US Water Alliance | March 24, 2020


“It’s the 21st century and there are still people in America who have to haul water in each morning and haul wastewater out every night.”

Communities living without access to water and sanitation—more than two million people in the United States—have known for decades that water access is critical to public health. Without basic services, communities are more vulnerable to a range of health risks, from water-borne infections to diabetes. Now, as the nation faces Covid-19, the need for safe, clean water in every home is more urgent than ever. Access to basic services is the foundation for building community resilience to crises.

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World Water Day 2020: Community Resilience in a Time of (Climate) Crisis

Katy Lackey and Zoe Roller, Senior Program Managers, US Water Alliance | March 23, 2020

While moving in vastly different ways and on different time scales, there are the ghostly similarities between the climate crisis and the coronavirus. The unfolding response to the current public health crisis begs some questions about our far slower, less urgent response to the climate crisis. Are we willing to take proactive measures to forestall the crises already devastating some communities? Do we recognize the impacts already here? How are we helping those most vulnerable? Will we act swiftly, dramatically, and in coordination to mitigate the worst yet to come?

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