Plan recognizes importance of investing in Great Lakes restoration to protect communities from storms, flooding and other impacts from climate change.
ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 31, 2021)—The Biden Administration is releasing a sweeping national infrastructure plan today, drawing praise from the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition for its robust investment in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure that can help protect the health of communities and confront the worsening water affordability crisis in which millions of Americans are finding it difficult to pay for the essential service of water in their homes. The plan also emphasizes the importance of restoring aquatic and terrestrial habitats like the Great Lakes to help make our infrastructure and communities more resilient to flooding and other impacts from climate change.
“The Biden Administration’s plan will help millions of people in the Great Lakes region and across the country who are struggling to pay for higher and higher water bills and whose health is jeopardized by serious threats such as toxic lead contamination and sewage pollution,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The plan recognizes that healthy and resilient waters pave the way for healthy and resilient communities. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and U.S. Congress to provide the level of federal investment that is needed to restore the Great Lakes and fix the nation’s inadequate water infrastructure so that we can protect our drinking water, Great Lakes, public health, jobs, and quality of life. We need to take action now, because these problems will only get worse and more expensive to solve the longer we wait.”
The Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan seeks to invest $111 billion to ensure clean, safe water is available to all communities. The plan prioritizes the replacement of all the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, addresses the growing threat of toxic contaminants like PFAS, and provides grants and flexible loans to our most vulnerable communities.
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.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has long championed a much more robust federal investment in our nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure to protect the health of people and to make water more affordable. Researchers estimate that by 2022, 1-in-3 Americans will have a difficult time paying their water bills. The growing water affordability crisis can be directly tied to a decades-long disinvestment by the federal government in water infrastructure. In 1977, investments from the federal government made up 63 percent of total spending on water infrastructure. By 2014, the federal government’s contribution had dropped to 9 percent.
With this lack of federal investment, local communities have been unable to keep up with the large maintenance costs for ageing systems. Many projects get delayed, and, in other cases, the costs of large infrastructure projects are passed on to rate-payers—leading to skyrocketing water bills. In some communities, water bills have tripled over the last 10 years, and when individuals cannot pay their water bills they face water shutoffs, which jeopardize their health and the health of their families.
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 www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.