CONTACT:
Jordan Lubetkin, LubetkinJ@nwf.org, (734) 904-1589
Lindsey Bacigal, BacigalL@nwf.org, (734) 887-7113

Coalition: ‘We hope that today’s vote to bolster our nation’s water infrastructure provides momentum for taking action on climate change.’

Ann Arbor, Mich. (November 6, 2021)—The U.S. House passed a bipartisan infrastructure package last night in a 228 to 206 vote that boosts federal investment in core Great Lakes and clean water programs, including significant investments in water infrastructure and $1 billion in additional funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed the U.S. Senate in August by a 69-30 bipartisan vote. The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition encouraged federal lawmakers to use its passage as momentum to act on climate change.

“The bipartisan infrastructure bill is a victory for the Great Lakes and the millions of people who depend on them for their drinking water, health, jobs, and quality of life,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “This bill is a big step forward in addressing the water infrastructure crisis threatening our communities. We’ve seen the positive impact that federal investments in the Great Lakes and clean water have had on the region. These infrastructure investments will allow for this important work to continue and provide much-needed help to the communities that have been most impacted by pollution. We thank members of Congress for supporting this vital bill and urge President Biden to sign it into law.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now heads to President Joe Biden. Once signed into law, the bill will invest $1.2 trillion for infrastructure work, including authorizing $35 billion in water infrastructure investments over five years, supplemented by over $62 billion in additional appropriations to augment critical infrastructure programs and address public health threats.

The investments in the bill will help address the water infrastructure crisis in the region and across the country. The Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, according to the EPA, need more than $188 billion over 20 years to update their drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. (This chart contains the water infrastructure needs of each state.)

This Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will address:

  • aging and crumbling drinking water and wastewater infrastructure (with over $70 billion in federal investments);
  • replacement of harmful lead service lines ($15 billion); and,
  • action on emerging contaminants like toxic PFAS ($10 billion).

The act also advances ecosystem restoration efforts, improving the resilience of our communities and protecting our waters through:

  • $1 billion in supplemental funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to restore habitat, clean up toxic pollution, reduce runoff pollution, and manage invasive species; and,
  • $1.9 billion in supplemental funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aquatic restoration projects, some of which can potentially fund projects to protect and restore Great Lakes coastal habitats and fisheries.

This funding is a significant step forward in protecting communities throughout the Great Lakes region, and the bill contains many priorities of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

The Coalition is also urging Congress to use the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as a catalyst to take significant action to address the climate crisis and to boost investments that help communities prepare for, and respond to, impacts due to climate change – so-called climate resilience –as currently being considered under the Build Back Better framework.

The extreme weather, more frequent and severe flooding, and erosion being driven by climate change is straining the region’s and nation’s inadequate water infrastructure, harming communities, hurting the economy, and jeopardizing the health of people.

“Confronting the climate crisis goes hand in hand with protecting and restoring the Great Lakes,” said Rubin. “We hope that today’s vote to bolster our nation’s water infrastructure provides momentum for taking action on climate change. We urge Congress to quickly reach agreement on legislation that confronts the climate crisis and provide the tools and resources communities so desperately need to protect themselves from the devastating economic, environmental and public health impacts of climate change. We have solutions, and it is time to use them before the problems get worse and more costly.”

Since 2004, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has been harnessing the collective power of more than 170 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.