ATLANTA -- The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 (H.R. 1915) on Wednesday. The bill would authorize $40 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that provides communities with low-cost financing for clean water infrastructure projects.
The bill also includes an important provision that will dedicate funding for green infrastructure projects in Georgia and across the county. This important commitment to nature-based infrastructure solutions was spearheaded by Georgia Congresswoman Nikema Williams who sponsored the WISE Act that served as a model in the push for permanent dedication.
Aging and failing water infrastructure results in sewage and runoff pollution seeping into our waterways, which in turn exposes millions of Americans to waterborne illness. In 2019, test results from 3,172 beaches across America showed that more than half of those beaches were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day. The EPA estimates that we will need $271 billion to maintain and improve wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years.
In response to H.R. 1915 and the Congresswoman’s leadership Jennette Gayer, Environment Georgia’s director issued the following statement:
“H.R. 1915 represents major progress toward making America’s waterways safe for swimming. This bill not only provides urgently needed funding to stop sewage overflows but also dedicates a substantial portion of the money to green projects, including nature-based solutions that prevent runoff pollution from flowing into our rivers, lakes, and streams.
“Thank you Congresswoman Williams for sponsoring the WISE act and leading the charge for dedicated, nature-based water infrastructure funding which was incorporated into the bill that passed today.
“Of equal importance, the committee rejected proposals to allow sewage plants to keep dumping the same levels of pollution for 10 more years -- which would have undermined the bill’s infrastructure investments and the Clean Water Act itself.
“Poll after poll shows that Americans across the political spectrum want to see government investment in clean water infrastructure and H.R. 1915 does just that. We urge Congress to enact this legislation to thwart further water pollution as soon as possible.”