The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States presents opportunities to accelerate progress to protect and restore the Great Lakes and our nation’s drinking water and reverse environmental injustices that have disproportionately impacted people of color, low-income communities, and indigenous tribes, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition said today.

“The Biden Administration has the opportunity to accelerate progress to restore the Great Lakes, protect our drinking water, and help the most vulnerable communities overcome the serious threats of pollution and unsafe water,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Clean water priorities in the region fit squarely with Biden Administration priorities to energize our economy, stand up for racial equity, and confront the climate crisis. We urge President Biden to take strong and decisive action to protect and restore the Great Lakes, ensure every person has access to safe and affordable drinking water, and invite hard-hit communities to the decision-making table. White House leadership, in collaboration with Congress, will be essential to boost federal investment in clean water programs that have been producing results for the environment and economy in communities across the region.

“We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to swiftly address these concerns by championing clean water priorities that achieve ecological outcomes, while addressing environmental injustices. Clean water is a basic need, yet too many cities and towns struggle with unsafe water. The Biden Administration has the opportunity to ensure that clean and affordable water is available to everyone in the region by addressing systemic inequities that have led to widespread water shutoffs in people’s homes, persistent toxic lead contamination, and a growing water affordability crisis that, if not addressed, by 2022 will leave 1-in-3 Americans at risk of water bills they cannot afford to pay.

“The good news is that we have solutions to these problems. We look forward to partnering with the Biden Administration and the U.S. Congress to confront these serious threats to our drinking water now, before the problems get worse and more expensive to solve.”

Top priorities for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition include boosting federal investments in drinking water and sewage treatment infrastructure, Great Lakes restoration and protection, lead-line replacement, and assistance to vulnerable communities—priorities that the Biden Administration can show leadership on with the release of its first annual budget in the coming months. The Coalition also strives to uphold clean water protections, secure drinking water protections for toxic PFAS and other contaminants, and to reverse roll-backs to drinking water and environmental safeguards undertaken by the previous presidential administration.