For Immediate Release:
October 28, 2021
Contact: Shannon Craig Straw, 202-674-5921, firstname.lastname@example.org
Water Equity and Climate Justice Advocates: We Can't Build Back Better Without Safe and Affordable Water
Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus urges Congress to pass both the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Act
WASHINGTON -- Following the announcement of President Biden’s revised Build Back Better Act framework, water equity and climate justice advocates are calling on Congress to move quickly to protect access to safe, affordable water by passing both the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Act.
Leaders with the Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus, a national network of nearly 90 organizations representing frontline communities on issues related to water and climate justice, have fought for provisions in the two bills that make critical investments in the nation’s water infrastructure. The Caucus is especially grateful for Chairman Carper’s leadership which resulted with the inclusion of a low-income water assistance program housed within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a statement, Yasmin Zaerpoor, Caucus co-chair and director for Water Equity and Climate Resilience at PolicyLink, highlighted the importance of expedited action as temporary pandemic relief programs and water shutoff moratoriums sunset:
"Our country cannot build back better without water. Access to safe and affordable water is fundamental to racial justice and equity. With pandemic relief efforts including water shutoff moratoriums and temporary assistance programs) set to expire as we approach the end of the year, Congress must work quickly to send both the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Act to President Biden’s desk.Together they signal a commitment to ensuring water security in our most vulnerable communities.”
Jonathan Nelson, WECR Caucus Steering Committee Member and federal advocate at the Community Water Center added:
“Families across America -- in farmworker communities, in small rural communities and in our inner cities -- have for years paid twice for water: once for toxic tap water, and a second time for bottled water. That is why federal support for clean water affordability and accessibility is critical. Even before the pandemic, an estimated 15 million people, mostly people of color struggling with poverty and unemployment, lost access to clean water because they couldn’t afford their bills. Moreover, studies find nearly 77 million Americans are served by unsafe drinking water. While far from a fully-funded solution, the new EPA water affordability program, once passed, will be an important foundation that we can build upon -- and now we must move as fast as possible to implement the program equitably.”
Discussing the need for Congress to pass both bills, Colette Pichon-Battle, co-chair of the Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, added:
“In addition to funding a low-income water assistance program within the EPA to assist low-income households with water and wastewater bills, the bills include funding for the replacement of lead service lines that are poisoning communities, and broader equitable investments in water infrastructure systems within vulnerable communities, including drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems. Together the packages make critical investments to ensure that the most basic PPE — safe and affordable water — is accessible to all, and that communities can defend themselves from the threats of climate change on their water systems.
“We will continue to work with Congress to increase funding for provisions of these bills after they’re signed by President Biden. We will also be watching closely how LIHWAP and other programs are implemented so people with overdue water bills -- whether renters or homeowners -- have access to the assistance they need and are not threatened with losing access to water or their homes due to water debt.”
The Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus is a national network of nearly 90 organizations working to address water equity and climate resilience — centering frontline communities of color and low-income communities. It is co-chaired by PolicyLink and the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy. Learn more: https://climatewaterequity.org/