Proposed White House budget and complementary American Jobs Plan boosts funding to restore Great Lakes, fix water infrastructure, and protect the health of millions in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (June 3, 2021) – The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition welcomes the newly proposed Biden Administration budget that, taken in tandem with the American Jobs Plan, presents a historic opportunity to secure sizeable federal investments to accelerate progress to restore the Great Lakes, protect the health of communities, and reverse environmental justices that have harmed vulnerable communities.

“The Biden Administration’s proposed budget and complementary investments in the American Jobs Plan can be a game-changer in the effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes, confront the climate crisis, and help communities that have disproportionately borne the brunt of pollution and environmental harm for far too long,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Water-Great Lakes Coalition. “The table has been set for a once-in-a-generation investment to help ensure that every person in this country has access to safe and affordable drinking water, and we need the Biden Administration and U.S. Congress to seize the day.”

The Biden Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022, which begins Oct. 1, includes increased funding levels to advance water infrastructure improvement efforts for community water systems, schools, and households. (Specific funding levels below.) The administration is also proposing an additional $111 billion in the American Jobs Plan to boost water infrastructure spending to fix sewers and drinking water infrastructure, replace lead service lines, and address toxic PFAS pollution. Taken together, these investments provide a substantial increase in the federal government’s investment to provide clean water to communities.

“Millions of people in our country do not have access to clean, safe and affordable water for themselves, their families, and their children,” said Monica Lewis-Patrick, president and CEO of We the People of Detroit. “The Biden Administration’s proposed budget and supplemental funding in the American Jobs Plan is a recognition that the status quo is not acceptable and that the federal government can and should be doing more. That is welcome news. If the White House and Congress can deliver on this level of funding, it will be a huge help in addressing the water affordability crisis in which more and more Americans are having difficulty paying their water bills.”

Michigan State University researchers estimate that by 2022, more than 1-in-3 Americans will have a hard time paying their water bills. The water affordability crisis can be partly attributed to the decades-long disinvestment in water infrastructure by the federal government leading to an immense backlog of work. The Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin need more than $188 billion over 20 years to meet clean water objectives and to protect the health of local communities, according to the U.S. EPA. Further, between 6 million and 10 million homes nationwide continue to receive their drinking water through lead service lines, posing a serious risk to their health.

“Failing water infrastructure threatens our health, economy, and environment. Sewage overflows are contaminating local waterways and families are being exposed to lead in the drinking water that comes out of their taps,” said Brian Smith, Associate Executive Director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). “We have solutions to these problems, and now is the time to use them. The Biden Administration’s proposed budget, along with the American Jobs Plan, provide a historic opportunity to upgrade our aging wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. We are counting on Congress to act and take advantage of this opportunity.”

Boosting federal clean water investments is a top priority for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

“Federal investments to restore the Great Lakes have been producing results for communities, but serious threats remain,” said Chad Lord, policy director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “With so many cities and town living with unsafe drinking water, we need to be doing more—and we need to do it now, before the problems get worse and more expensive to solve. Our nation can do great things if our leaders come together. We encourage them to not shy away from this moment and to get the job done.”

The Biden Administration’s proposed budget:

  • Increases federal investments in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $330 million to $340 million, an increase of $10 million;
  • Boosts federal investments in the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which help communities repair wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, by $232 million each (or, $464 million total);
  • Includes more than $930 million in funding across new and existing programs under a new environmental justice initiative, cementing environmental justice as a core feature of the EPA’s mission;
  • Increases grants from $40 million to $60 million to help communities reduce sewage overflows;
  • Boosts funding for programs to reduce lead in drinking water from $48 million to $118 million;
  • Fully funds work to do pre-engineering and design for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes; and,
  • Increases budgets for federal agencies substantially. For example, the White House is recommending a $2 billion boost to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, enhancing capacity and ability to do science and research, community engagement, and enforcement.

Since 2004, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has been harnessing the collective power of more than 160 groups representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at HealthyLakes.org or follow us on Twitter @HealthyLakes

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CONTACT:

Jordan Lubetkin, LubetkinJ@nwf.org, (734) 904-1589

Lindsey Bacigal, BacigalL@nwf.org, (734) 887-7113