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Congress passes new provisions to safeguard drinking water and curb sewage overflows

For Immediate Release

Today, in a 99-1 vote, the U.S. Senate passed America’s Water Infrastructure Act (S. 3021), which includes provisions to protect drinking water and stop sewage overflows. The bill would double the main federal investment in safe drinking water, establish a small grant program for schools to Get the Lead Out of drinking water, and expand monitoring of unregulated contaminants such as perfluorinated compounds (PFAS). The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk, following the House’s unanimous approval last month.

John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America, issued the following statement:

“In the wake of the tragedy in Flint, Michigan, we now know the toxic threat of lead in drinking water extends to thousands of communities across the country. And it’s not just lead — other chemical contaminants remain unregulated, imposing an unmonitored risk on millions of Americans. These toxins and chemicals are in the water at our homes and even in our schools​ — flowing from taps where our kids drink every day.

“The health threat of lead in schools’ drinking water deserves immediate attention from policymakers. Even low levels of lead can impair how children learn, grow and behave. And while the damage from lead is well-known, we also must be vigilant to prevent newer threats to safe drinking water, such as toxic contamination from PFAS.

“The following measures in America’s Water Infrastructure Act are important steps toward ensuring safe drinking water for all Americans:

  • SEC. 2023 would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to double funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) over three years. This $1.95 billion investment is urgently needed by states to replace lead service lines.

  • SEC. 1465 would establish a $5 million per year grant program to help schools replace aging drinking water fountains, which often contain lead.

  • SEC. 2021 would require testing for unregulated toxic contaminants such as PFAS in water systems serving 3,300 people or more (previously 10,000 people).

  • SEC. 4107 would help curb sewage overflows by authorizing a $225 million grant program, with a 20 percent carve-out for green infrastructure projects such as buffer zones, rain barrels and other techniques that prevent runoff pollution at the source.

“In 21st century America, we should be able to keep lead and other toxins out of our drinking water, and sewage out of our rivers, lakes, and bays. We were glad to see the Senate approve America’s Water Infrastructure Act today.

“We urge the President to ensure that these provisions on safe drinking water and green infrastructure become law without delay. They are long overdue.”