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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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Value of Water Co-Hosts Presidential Candidate Forum on Infrastructure

Radhika Fox, CEO, US Water Alliance | February 28, 2020

Five years ago, I became Director of the Value of Water Campaign. When I talked to people across the water sector about what the Value of Water should focus on, I’d often hear some variation on: “The infrastructure dialogue is always roads and bridges. What about water?”  

With much of our water and sewer infrastructure hiding below ground, water is often out-of-sight and out-of-mind. It’s hard to do a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new water main. As a result, water is often left out of the conversation about infrastructure, even though our water and sewer systems face the same problems with age, underinvestment, and new climate threats that our roads and bridges face.

The Value of Water Campaign set about to change that. We sought out partners and allies to help us elevate water in the infrastructure conversation. We joined with newly found partners to co-create messages and high-impact events that included water. And a few weeks ago, we co-hosted the first ever Presidential Candidate Forum on Infrastructure. I sat in the ballroom listening to four presidential candidates outline their infrastructure visions, and they all talked at length about water. Water was the star of the show! Water wasn’t out of site and out of mind anymore. | More >

Beginning the One Water Journey in Charlotte County

Claire Jubb, Community Development Director, Charlotte County Community Development | February 26, 2020

For the new year, the Board of County Commissioners made water quality a top priority to improve drinking water and water in the harbor, canals, and rivers. On Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, Charlotte County, Florida took its first step toward a One Water journey.

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Water Equity Taskforce Highlights Accomplishments and Looks to the Future at Capstone Exchange in Camden

Kara Butler, Program Associate, US Water Alliance | January 29, 2020

The Water Equity Taskforce’s capstone convening took place last week in Camden, NJ. This gathering of 80 utility, community and environmental nonprofit, city government, and philanthropy partners concluded the Alliance’s two-year collaborative project with seven cities (Atlanta, Buffalo, Camden, Cleveland, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh). City teams shared insights from their partnerships and progress towards building equitable approaches to water management and discussed their commitments and plans for expanding water equity in their cities and throughout the country. | More >