American Jobs Plan boosts water infrastructure
A week ago, President Joe Biden came up with a welcome proposal that includes a $ 111 billion investment in water infrastructure. It would fund strong action to protect millions of Americans from water contaminated with lead, other toxic chemicals and pathogens. The package would create a multitude of new decent paying jobs while protecting our health. Congress should act quickly to advance these priorities.
Investing in hydraulic infrastructure is investing in equity. As we have learned from our studies and the communities in which we have worked, including Flint, Michigan; Newark, Ohio; Pittsburgh and other cities, those left behind by divestment in water infrastructure are disproportionate income communities of color. Disadvantaged rural and tribal communities are also at serious risk. Families in these communities often have to live with severely contaminated water or not at all every day, have leaded service lines and sometimes raw sewage circulate in their streets or completely lack sanitation. In many of these communities, democracy itself has been seriously compromised. In Flint, for example, state-appointed officials made the fateful rash decisions that led to serious contamination, with residents and their elected officials effectively disenfranchised. Meanwhile, water prices continue to rise, making water unaffordable for many low-income families across the country and putting them at risk completely lose the water service. Similar stories can be told in many other communities. It is only with reforms in the way our water systems are managed and with major federal investments that the nation’s water problems can be solved.
It is also important to keep in mind that investing in water infrastructure is a great job creator. For example, a recent study by the Metropolitan Planning Council found that replacing all of Illinois’ peak service lines alone could create up to 224,500 jobs and $ 23 billion in additional economic activity. Amplify that into a national investment, and the number of new high paying jobs will be huge.
Among the most important water proposals in the Biden plan is to dig up and replace all 6 million to 10 million main service lines, found in all states, DC and Puerto Rico, at a cost of $ 45 billion. This is crucial, as removing lead from the system is the only way to ensure that generations of children are safe from lead-contaminated tap water.
An additional $ 56 billion would be injected into programs that finance the modernization of wastewater, stormwater and drinking water treatment infrastructure. This increase is a big step in the right direction to reach the $ 750 billion needed to rehabilitate our nation’s water systems.
After decades of procrastination, it’s time to finally get serious. China and other countries around the world are investing in their infrastructure and leaving us in the dust. We have aging and decrepit roads, bridges, transit, sewage, and drinking water systems. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently donated our wastewater treatment infrastructure a D-plus to note, stormwater infrastructure a D and drinking water infrastructure an embarrassing C-minus. This is a newsletter that you would like to hide from mom and dad.
The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave our wastewater treatment infrastructure a bulletin that you would like to keep from mom and dad.
If passed, the Biden package would take great strides towards cleaning up tens of millions of tap water contaminated with lead, PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and other pollutants. In addition to significant spending on water infrastructure, the proposal would also invest in cleaning and protecting groundwater and surface water sources to improve our health and the environment.
The Biden plan says it would target 40% of the benefits of climate and infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities. Ensuring that the financing of water infrastructure is prioritized in this way will be essential to address the historic and ongoing divestment in these areas.
Key investments from basic documents published by the White House, would address:
- Eliminate major service lines. Complies with pleas From community leaders, health experts, NRDC and others, the Biden plan would eliminate 100% of lead and service lines in drinking water systems to improve children’s health and in particular communities of color.
- Funding for the removal of lead pipes in homes, schools and daycares. To eliminate all lead pipes and service lines, the plan would invest $ 45 billion in the EPA’s State Revolving Drinking Water Fund (SRF) and improvement grants to the EPA. water infrastructure for the Nation Act (WIIN). The funds will be used to invest in reducing lead in homes and in 400,000 schools and daycares.
- Improve and modernize drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks. The plan would modernize aging water supply systems by scaling up existing and successful programs, including providing $ 56 billion in low-cost flexible grants and loans to states, tribes, territories and disadvantaged communities.
- Treat PFAS contamination. The plan would provide $ 10 billion to monitor and remediate PFAS in drinking water and to invest in small rural water systems and household well and sewer systems, including drainage fields. Like us discussed in more detail previously, PFAS contamination was a major threat to millions of Americans.
Protect and sanitize groundwater and surface water
- Clean up brownfields and superfund sites. The plan would invest $ 5 billion in the cleanup and redevelopment of the Brownfield and Superfund sites, as well as related economic and workforce development. These sites are often the source of pollution of groundwater and surface water. The objective is to transform this inactive property into new poles of economic growth and job creation.
- Plugging orphan oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines. Hundreds of thousands of old orphaned oil and gas wells and abandoned mines pose serious safety risks, while causing damage to air, water and other environmental damage. Many of these old wells and mines are in rural communities that have suffered from years of divestment. The plan would make an immediate initial investment of $ 16 billion to put hundreds of thousands of people to work in unionized jobs, plug oil and gas wells, and restore and reclaim coal, hard rock and coal mines. abandoned uranium. In addition to creating decent-paying jobs in hard-hit communities, this would reduce methane emissions to the air and remove brine that escapes from these wells and can contaminate water sources.
- Engage the next generation of conservation and resilience workers. The plan would make a $ 10 billion investment to put a new, diverse generation of Americans to work with paid jobs for the conservation of public lands and waters, building the resilience of communities and advancing environmental justice through a new Civilian Climate Corps. Restoring watersheds and wetlands can significantly improve the quality of ground and surface water.
- Discuss issues related to rural water and other infrastructure. The plan would invest $ 5 billion in a new rural partnership program to help rural areas, including tribal nations, invest in water and other infrastructure and take other steps to build on their strengths. and realize their vision of inclusive community and economic development.
Nature-based infrastructure, resilience, water efficiency and recycling
- Protect and restore nature-based infrastructure to protect water resources. The plan would protect and restore nature-based infrastructure, including land, forests, wetlands, watersheds, and coastal and ocean resources. The proposal would invest in protection against extreme forest fires, coastal resilience to sea level rise and hurricanes, support agricultural resource management and climate-smart technologies, and protect and restore key resources. in land and water such as the Florida Everglades and the Great Lakes.
- Improving resilience to drought and climate change in the western United States: The plan would improve the West’s resilience to drought and climate change by investing in water efficiency, water recycling and tribal water settlements, among other projects.
This post originally appeared on NRDC Expert Blog.