Chairwoman Napolitano's Statement During Markup of the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021
WASHINGTON, DC - House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairwoman Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) delivered the following opening statement during today's full Committee markup to consider H.R. 1915, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021.
I rise in support of H.R.1915, a bipartisan bill which I introduced with Chairman DeFazio and Congressman Fitzpatrick.
Over the past 4 years, my Subcommittee has held several hearings on the need to invest in the nation’s wastewater infrastructure and has heard strong support from our witnesses for this legislation.
The American Society of Civil Engineers gave America's wastewater infrastructure a grade of D plus in its 2021 report card. The robust funding levels in this bipartisan proposal are critical to improving this grade and addressing the EPA’s estimated $270 billion backlog over the next 20 years in wastewater and stormwater upgrades.
Similarly, in his American Jobs Plan, President Biden further stressed the importance of water and wastewater investment – not only for the number of jobs that it will create, but also for how these investments in safe, efficient, and sustainable water infrastructure are critical to the health and well-being of everyday Americans.
Furthermore, the Clean Water Act has not been reauthorized since 1987. That is over 30 years since we have revisited and updated this foundational law. That is why it is crucial that we enact this proposal before the committee today. It provides the necessary clarity and commitment to addressing the nation’s clean water needs.
The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act is supported by over 60 bipartisan cosponsors and by over 70 organizations, including: state clean water authorities, local sanitation districts, environmental NGOs, labor unions, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, mayors and county commissioners, construction and manufacturing groups, and conservation and water reuse associations.
The diverse coalition supporting this bill came together because they recognize that America needs efficient, innovative, and resilient wastewater infrastructure.
This bill will deliver exactly that. It will not only authorize over $50 billion to modernize our infrastructure but also ensure that new investments will prioritize sustainable and resilient approaches that increase the overall protection of human health, the health of our environment, and the resilience of our communities.
This bill includes many provisions I have worked on and strongly support.
In particular, I am happy to see the provision that expands support and eligibility for recapturing and reusing wastewater and stormwater for both non-potable and drinking water needs – something that is very important for my constituents and communities across the West that are currently experiencing more frequent and historically-severe droughts.
I also want to highlight provisions in this bill to increase the affordability of wastewater infrastructure funding to economically-disadvantaged communities. These communities, which are often communities of color, struggle to afford the necessary infrastructure upgrades necessary to protect water quality and human health, and the increased funding and grant assistance authorized by H.R. 1915 will greatly assist in addressing these local needs.
I am also proud of the increased infrastructure investment on Tribal lands contained in this legislation. As we learned at our Subcommittee hearing in February, the backlog of tribal sanitation needs is approximately $2.7 billion – and H.R. 1915 seeks to partner with tribal communities to address these critical needs.
Mr. Chairman, all our communities are struggling to address the challenges of aging wastewater infrastructure. Further delay only pushes that burden down the road to future generations. Now is the time to invest in this critical infrastructure.
I strongly support this bill and urge all members to vote yes on its adoption.
H.R. 1915 was ultimately passed and reported favorably out of Committee with a bipartisan vote of 42 to 25.
More information on the markup can be found here.
Additional information on the legislation can be found here.