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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Champions Water Infrastructure and Safe Drinking Water Investments Passed by U.S. Senate Today

The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 includes numerous reforms from Senator Baldwin to address water challenges in Wisconsin and across the country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today applauded the passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) in the U.S. Senate. WRDA includes many reforms authored by Senator Baldwin and investments she has championed in the Senate.

“Communities in Wisconsin and across the United States are committed to providing safe drinking water for families and their children, but we need to invest in rebuilding our water infrastructure,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’ve heard from Wisconsinites who are calling for stronger investments to meet this challenge and I have worked in the Senate to advance bipartisan solutions.”

Senator Baldwin helped shape WRDA by leading water improvement efforts:

Senator Baldwin’s Water Technology Acceleration Act

The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 protects against health threats in our water supply by incorporating Senator Baldwin’s Water Technology Acceleration Act. The Water Technology Acceleration Act, authored by Senator Baldwin earlier this year, accelerates the development and deployment of water technologies to solve our most pressing water challenges, including lead safety, phosphorous reduction and treatment of bacteria and nitrates.

WRDA includes the Water Technology Acceleration Act’s Innovative Water Technology Grant program, which would fund public-private partnerships that deploy, test and improve emerging water technologies. Additionally, WRDA includes reforms based on Senator Baldwin’s Water Technology Acceleration Act to encourage the development and deployment of innovative water technologies in municipal water and wastewater treatments systems by making them eligible for additional subsidization under the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. Many Wisconsin communities are facing costly phosphorous treatment upgrades, and this funding could help them utilize lower-cost options, reducing costs at the local level.

While there are many companies that are developing advanced water technologies, in many cases there is no functioning market for their deployment. Senator Baldwin’s reforms would create a federal role for accelerating the testing, deployment and encouraging the commercialization of technologies, including pipes with smart sensors that can tell you when water is contaminated or when water pressure is dropping. The legislation would also help accelerate technologies to address livestock waste treatment systems, green infrastructure and updated stream gauges, which can help reduce the costs of a variety of water problems, such as upgrading water infrastructure and treating manure that runs into surface waters.

Senator Baldwin’s Made in America Water Infrastructure Act

Senator Baldwin’s Made in America Water Infrastructure Act is included in WRDA. Her “Buy American” provision will help rebuild our aging drinking water infrastructure by requiring all iron and steel used in these projects to be 100 percent American-made. This will ensure that the water American families drink is carried through high-quality pipes manufactured right here in the United States, not foreign countries with lower standards.

In addition to reforms authored by Senator Baldwin, investments championed by Baldwin in the Senate have been included in WRDA to reduce the threat of lead poisoning in communities and improve drinking water infrastructure:

The True LEADership Act

On the heels of the Flint water crisis, Senator Baldwin helped lead the introduction of the Testing, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016, or True LEADership Act, to improve our nation’s water infrastructure and address the scourge of lead-laden water and housing while creating thousands of new jobs. WRDA includes numerous reforms from the True LEADership Act that Senator Baldwin has championed:

  • Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA): WRDA will leverage at least $700 million in secured financing for water infrastructure projects across the country. WIFIA will significantly leverage federal investment in water infrastructure, lower the cost of infrastructure investments, and increase the availability of lower-cost capital for critical water infrastructure projects. All water systems are eligible for WIFIA financing.
  • Reducing lead in drinking water grant program: Senator Baldwin strongly supported this new grant program aimed at rebuilding water infrastructure and reducing the threat of lead poisoning from drinking water in communities across the country. Communities will be able to use this funding for replacement of lead service lines, testing, planning, corrosion control, and education. This excludes partial lead service line replacement from eligibility, authorizes $60 million for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021, for a total of $300 million over five years, and provides $20 million in direct spending to carry out this program.
  • Lead testing in school and child care drinking water grant program: WRDA authorizes $20 million a year for fiscal years 2017 through 2021, totaling $100 million, for grants to carry out a voluntary school and child care lead testing program.
  • Assistance to Small and Disadvantaged Communities: WRDA authorizes $1.43 billion for a new EPA grant program that will help small and disadvantaged communities comply with federal standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The bill provides $20 million in direct spending to carry out this program.

Investments in Infrastructure and Public Health

As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin has fought for investments to improve ports and flood risk management, as well as investments in public health for communities affected by lead:

  • Improvements to ports and harbors: WRDA makes improvements to ports around the country to provide Wisconsin’s manufacturers and agricultural producers with the quality infrastructure they need to move their goods to market. WRDA also provides continued investment in the Great Lakes Navigation System, which keeps costs low for consumers and is vital for our Made in Wisconsin economy.
  • Public Health Funding for Communities Affected by Lead: WRDA provides $50 million in funding for public health programs to address lead contamination. Senator Baldwin has been a strong supporter of these HHS and HUD programs as a member of the Appropriations Committee:
    • Invests $17.5 million to have HHS conduct a health registry to monitor health in a community with lead contamination in the local drinking water system through the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or to support an existing registry via a grant or contract.
    • Creates an advisory committee to review federal efforts related to lead poisoning programming, research, and services, and to make recommendations to Congress and the Administration on how to improve health, education, and nutrition responses.
    • Invests $10 million over FY2017 and FY2018 in the CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund, which develops programs, provides outreach to the public and health providers, supports research, and funds state programs to address and prevent childhood lead poisoning.
    • Invests $10 million over FY2017 and FY2018 in the HUD Healthy Homes Program, which provides grants to states to identify and mitigate a variety of environmental health and safety issues such as lead, mold, carbon monoxide, and radon.
    • Invests $10 million over FY2017 and FY2018 in the HHS Healthy Start Initiative. This program provides assistance to pregnant women and new mothers by helping connect them with health care and other resources to foster healthy childhood development.
  • Army Corps Projects on the Upper Mississippi, Illinois and Des Plaines Rivers: WRDA authorizes a study of the levees along the upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers on a system-wide basis to evaluate the flood damage risks and identify ideal projects and $307.09 million for flood risk management and environmental restoration on the Upper Des Plaines River and tributaries.