Major Water Legislative Victory!
Please join us in amplifying an exciting moment for all water equity and climate justice advocates in our nation as we celebrate an historic legislative milestone! The Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus, co-convened by PolicyLink and the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, applauds the passage of new water infrastructure legislation through the House of Representatives that would promote equity and climate resilience; reauthorize at higher levels the State Revolving Funds; improve climate resilience in our water infrastructure; expand federal efforts to build the water workforce; and create the first-ever federally funded permanent, nationwide low-income water customer assistance program. This much-needed, bipartisan legislation will improve water infrastructure and provide targeted relief to the millions of low-income households across our country.
A top policy priority of the Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus, first introduced by Representatives Lisa Blunt-Rochester (D-DE) and John Katko (R-NY), the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act of 2021 (H.R. 3293) has been incorporated into H.R. 3684, and passed the House of Representatives last Thursday, July 8th. It will now move to be conferenced with the Senate bill 914 that also centers equity in water investments.
Similar to the LIHEAP program that provides assistance with home heating and energy costs, a federally funded, permanent low-income water assistance program will provide a vital safety net for families during times of financial distress. This program will ensure that water continues to flow for millions of Americans while reducing debt accumulation at water systems serving vulnerable communities.
Kalima Rose, Senior Fellow at PolicyLink and co-chair of the Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus, made the following statement on the House passage of this legislation:
“The Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus applauds the passage of this historic legislation by the House of Representatives and calls on the Senate to act swiftly to retain the key equity and environmental justice provisions of this bill and send it to President Biden’s desk for signature. This legislation, worked on by Caucus members for over two years, is a significant step toward improving water infrastructure for the most impacted communities and ensuring that all people have access to clean, safe, reliable, and affordable water services.”
The Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus are comprised of frontline environmental justice organizations that fight for the right to safe and affordable water, climate-resilient water protections, and jobs and contracts for Black, Indigenous, and people of color workers and firms in the water sector. The Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus educate lawmakers on the value of water access and affordability and other reforms to deliver safe and affordable drinking water to all people in the U.S. After the Covid-19 pandemic exposed critical vulnerabilities in our nation’s water systems and the harmful public health ramifications of lack of access to clean water, the Caucus released its federal policy blueprint, which included calling for a low-income assistance policy.