Communities nationwide, challenged by impure drinking water concerns, can now breathe sighs of relief. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, in an effort led by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.
Pallone served as an advocate during bipartisan negotiations, leading House Democrats throughout the process. The New Jersey representative included several provisions, such as a proposal to provide grant funding of $5 million to public schools to replace lead drinking water fountains, for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2021. This would help replace older fountains on campuses and help pay for monitoring and reporting of lead levels in schools.
“This bill will offer real funding and real tools to make our drinking water safer and to rebuild our drinking water infrastructure,” Pallone said in a press statement. “I am also proud to say that the bill includes funding to replace lead drinking fountains in schools and will require EPA to assess, for the first time, the anticipated costs to replace our lead service lines nationwide. Safe drinking water should be a bipartisan issue that we can all agree on, and I am pleased that today we came together to improve our nation’s drinking water infrastructure.”
The Drinking Water System Improvement Act also includes a number of important provisions such as:
– An $8 billion increase in infrastructure funding over five years;
– Funding for states to oversee drinking water systems;
– A minimum level of assistance for disadvantaged communities;
– A requirement that EPA make consumer confidence reports more accurate, more understandable and more frequent;
– A buy American requirement for iron and steel products and Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements.
As a next step, the Drinking Water System Improvement Act will go to the House Floor for a vote by the full chamber.