Cardin Leads Call to Fully Fund Programs to Find Lead and Remove It from Drinking Water

by: Senator Cardin's Announcements
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 25, 2017
CONTACTS: SUE WALITSKY 202-224-4524/TIM ZINK 410-962-4436

Cardin Leads Call to Fully Fund Programs to Find Lead and Remove It from Drinking Water

“The underfunding of our vital water and wastewater infrastructure, and the safety of our families and children, are issues we simply cannot continue ignore.”

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, led more than two dozen of his colleagues this week in urging appropriators to continue robust support for grant programs to reduce lead in drinking water. The senators are looking to ensure Congress keeps its promise of improving testing in schools for lead, replacing lead pipes and revising financing programs so underserved communities can replace their crumbling water infrastructure, all of which were authorized last year with passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
 
“Americans have a right to expect that water coming from their taps is safe to drink. We can no longer delay needed upgrades to our infrastructure, strengthening drinking water protections and removing lead and other contaminants out of public water supplies,” the senators wrote. “These grant programs passed the Senate on an overwhelming vote of 95-3, in large part because we in the Senate know that clean water is one of the most basic foundations of our daily lives – we ignore its safe storage and delivery at our own peril,” they added.
“Long before Flint was seared into the national consciousness, I have been fighting year after year to upgrade our hidden water infrastructure,” said Senator Cardin. “I created these programs with my colleagues Sen. Markey and Sen. Inhofe last year because clean water means good jobs and better health. Congress can ensure that the federal government is a willing and able partner in helping communities across the country rebuild the modern, safe water infrastructure systems they deserve.” 
Joining Senator Cardin on the letter to Senators Lisa Murkowski and Tom Udall, chairman and ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, are Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.).
The full letter on can be found below and downloaded here.
May 23, 2017
The Honorable Lisa Murkowski Chairman
Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Tom Udall
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Udall:
As the Subcommittee develops spending priorities for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), we strongly urge you to support full and robust funding for the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities grants in Section 2104, the Reducing Lead in Drinking Water Grants in Section 2105, and the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grants in Section 2107 in Public Law No: 114-322 at the full authorized amounts of $60 million, $60 million and $20 million respectively.
Americans have a right to expect that water coming from their taps is safe to drink. We can no longer delay needed upgrades to our infrastructure, strengthening drinking water protections and removing lead and other contaminants out of public water supplies.
There are nearly 2,000 water systems—at least one in every state in the country—that have elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. The Section 2105 grants go directly toward replacement of lead service lines, testing, planning, and corrosion control in water systems throughout the country.
 
Small and disadvantaged communities have a particularly difficult time removing contaminants from their drinking water systems due to funding constraints. In fact, more than 18,000 drinking water systems serving almost 77 million people across the country were in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act just in 2015 alone. Smaller systems, like those serving rural areas, had much higher rates of violations than larger systems. The Section 2104 grants would allow the communities with the least resources to ensure that their drinking water is safe.
Finally, there have been many reports in recent years of lead found in the drinking water at schools across the country. Unfortunately, testing can be expensive for already cash-strapped schools. Section 2107 Grants were created help defray those costs and keep the limited funding our schools receive focused on education.
These grant programs passed the Senate on an overwhelming vote of 95-3, in large part because we in the Senate know that clean water is one of the most basic foundations of our daily lives – we ignore its safe storage and delivery at our own peril. The underfunding of our vital water and wastewater infrastructure, and the safety of our families and children are issues we simply cannot continue ignore. Pipes may be out of sight, but they cannot be out of mind. We urgently need to minimize the risks to our communities and our children. Urban, rural and suburban neighborhoods – in every community in America – all rely on safe, clean water.
We respectfully urge you to fully fund these grant programs and protect our communities.
Sincerely,

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