CA Senator Harris Introduces $250 Billion Water Justice Act to Address National Water Crisis

By on July 25, 2019

On Monday, California’s junior senator, Kamala Harris (D-CA), introduced the Water Justice Act, landmark legislation calling for the U.S. to invest $250 billion in water safety, affordability, and sustainability. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI 5th District-Flint) and Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI 14th District-Southfield) will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The Water Justice Act seeks to ensure all Americans, and especially those in at-risk communities, have access to safe, affordable drinking water.

“Every American has the right to clean water, period,” said Sen. Harris. “We must take seriously the existential threat represented by future water shortages and acknowledge that communities across the country—particularly communities of color—already lack access to safe and affordable water. Achieving true justice in our nation will require us to recognize the precious nature of water and take bold action to invest in long-term, sustainable solutions to ensure it is accessible for all.”

If the legislation became a reality it calls for the immediate investment in communities and schools to test for and remove contaminants in water, including replacing toxic lead service lines. Additionally, the bill would provide assistance for families struggling with the cost of rising water bills and support a broad range of sustainable water infrastructure projects.

Water woes are becoming pervasive throughout the United States due to such issues as alternating water shortages/drought versus destructive and deadly floods, contaminated wells, aging infrastructure, land subsistence due to over tapping of groundwater (especially in California) and the discovery of lead contamination. Sen. Harris has shared that according to a recent survey of state water managers, at least 40 states are anticipating water shortages by 2024. Since 2010, household water rates have increased by approximately 41 percent, with as many as 15 percent of households facing water affordability challenges.

Michigan Rep. Kildee represents the city of Flint, often now referred to as ground zero for the issue of lead contamination. In recent years, those U.S. schools that have conducted tests for contamination, 37 percent—serving an estimated 13 million students—tested positive for lead in their drinking water and 30 percent of U.S. community water systems reported having some lead-containing service lines in their system.

“My hometown of Flint knows all too well the consequences of failing to invest in our drinking water systems,” said Rep. Kildee. “No family should ever have to worry if the water coming out of their taps is safe, and unfortunately that is a reality for many communities across the country. I’m proud to partner with Senator Harris to introduce this comprehensive bill that addresses the safety and sustainability of water. With smart investments, we can secure clean drinking water for all.”

The Water Justice Act, if enacted as it is currently written, would invest $250 billion in critical upgrades to the nation’s water infrastructure, consists of three main planks: safe Water, affordable water, and sustainable water.

“Thank you, Senator Harris for your leadership on this critical issue,” said Michigan Rep. Lawrence. “Too many communities across the country lack access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. This bill reaffirms that water is a human right and delivers a comprehensive solution to achieve justice for millions of families.”