US President Joe Biden is facing pressure from democratic lawmakers and environmental advocates to support a new clean water bill that was introduced by congress on February 25 in response to America’s worsening water crisis.
The Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (Water) Act of 2021 was introduced in the House by congressman and woman, Ro Khanna and Brenda Lawrence, and in the Senate by Bernie Sanders. The act has the support of over 70 U.S House representatives, 4 U.S Senators and 540 advocacy organisations from nearly every state.
Over the next 20 years, the water justice bill proposes a multi-million federal dollar investment to upgrade ageing water systems, create millions of US jobs and ensure wider access to clean and affordable water for millions of people across the country in order to curb longstanding inequalities.
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Action explained: “From the plague of water shutoffs during a pandemic for countless families with unaffordable bills, to the recent heartbreaking scenes across the South of frozen pipes leaving millions without water to drink and bathe, it has become desperately clear that our country is in a water crisis. Grave crises require robust solutions, and this is just what the WATER Act provides,”
She added: “The WATER Act paves the way to rebuilding our failing water system by addressing maintenance and modernization, cleanliness and safety, affordability and social justice - all in one clean sweep. The time for Congress and the Biden administration to make this critical legislation a priority has very clearly come. Our country can’t wait any longer for a functional, safe and affordable water system in every community.”
Since 1977, federal investment in water infrastructures across the US has fallen by 77 Percent, which has had a disproportionated effect on working class households and people of colour. A recent Guardian investigation revealed that, out of the 25 million people who are forced to drink from systems that do not meet federal health standards, Latinos are most at risk.
Discussing the issue of unequal water access, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, congressman Ro Khanna said: “It’s no coincidence the communities with the highest rates of coronavirus infections are the same ones with dirty water. The systematic underinvestment in working-class cities & neighbourhoods must end.”
Hopefully, the Biden administration will back the new water justice bill, in order to tackle increasing water disparities across the country and to boost the US economy with the creation of more jobs.