Sens. Duckworth and Braun Introduce Partnership Legislation to Assist Distressed Water Systems Nationwide
Washington, D.C. (October 16, 2019) – Yesterday, Senators Duckworth (D-IL) and Braun (R-IN) introduced the bipartisan Voluntary Water Partnerships for Distressed Communities Act to encourage utilities struggling with water quality issues to seek help from other water systems.
Many community water systems, especially small utilities, struggle to stay in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) due to a number of reasons — including lack of technical expertise and capital resources. SDWA violations can persist for years, putting public health at risk.
Through the proposed legislation, water systems in significant noncompliance with the SDWA will have the opportunity to enter a voluntary partnership agreement with a neighboring, compliant water system leveraging the resources of the often larger system to return to compliance.
“Senators Braun and Duckworth have been real leaders on modernizing our water infrastructure and we are pleased to support their new legislation that will help small, struggling utilities access the capital and expertise needed to provide safe, clean and affordable water,” said Robert Powelson, President and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies. “According to the EPA, there are over 1,200 small water systems that have been in serious non-compliance with drinking water standards across the U.S., putting public health and their customers at risk. Rising treatment costs, coupled with a lack of financial resources, stress these small utilities that struggle to make the necessary investments in aging infrastructure. Partnering with a larger, more experienced utility is a proven way for challenged systems to start down the path of providing the safe, clean and affordable water services their customers deserve.”
The partnership legislation will be referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for consideration. For more information, read Sen. Duckworth and Braun’s press release here.
The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) represents regulated water and wastewater companies, as well as ones engaging in partnerships with municipal utilities. NAWC members provide 73 million Americans with safe and reliable water service every day and have an exceptional record of compliance with federal and state health and environmental regulations. Ensuring this high standard of quality requires extraordinary amounts of capital investment. NAWC estimates that its ten largest members alone collectively invested $3 billion in 2018 in their water and wastewater systems. For more information about NAWC, please visit NAWC.org or follow on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.