WASHINGTON -- The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 (H.R. 1915) on Wednesday. The bill would authorize $40 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that provides communities with low-cost financing for clean water infrastructure projects. Additionally, H.R. 1915 includes provisions designed to both assist small or financially disadvantaged communities and dedicate 15 percent of the funding to state grants for green infrastructure improvements.
Aging and failing water infrastructure results in sewage and runoff pollution seeping into our waterways, which in turn exposes millions of Americans to waterborne illness. In 2019, test results from 3,172 beaches across America showed that more than half of those beaches were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day. The EPA estimates that we will need $271 billion to maintain and improve wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years.
In response to H.R. 1915 passing the committee, John Rumpler, Environment America’s clean water program director, issued the following statement:
“H.R. 1915 represents major progress toward making America’s waterways safe for swimming. This bill not only provides urgently needed funding to stop sewage overflows but also dedicates a substantial portion of the money to green projects, including nature-based solutions that prevent runoff pollution from flowing into our rivers, lakes, and streams.
“Of equal importance, the committee rejected proposals to allow sewage plants to keep dumping the same levels of pollution for 10 more years -- which would have undermined the bill’s infrastructure investments and the Clean Water Act itself.
“Poll after poll shows that Americans across the political spectrum want to see government investment in clean water infrastructure and H.R. 1915 does just that.
“We applaud all of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members who voted to advance H.R. 1915. The bipartisan team of Committee Chair Peter DeFazio, Subcommittee Chair Grace Napolitano, and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick introduced this bill together and their staffs are working to ensure all our waterways are clean and safe for swimming. We urge Congress to enact this legislation to thwart further water pollution as soon as possible.”