Padilla Secures Provisions on Water Sustainability, Equity Programs in Clean Drinking Water Bill

Senate passes Padilla amendment on water sustainability to help CA tackle coming drought

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee, announced provisions he secured in the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, bipartisan legislation to improve drinking water quality across America that passed the Senate today by a vote of 89-2. The bill included Padilla’s amendment to help California communities tackle the coming drought by making water sustainability and water recycling projects eligible for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding. This is Padilla’s first amendment filed in the Senate, adopted on his 100th day in office.

“Every American should have access to clean, safe drinking water,” said Senator Padilla. “Sadly, that is not the case today. One million Californians, and millions of Americans, cannot drink their tap water due to contamination or lack of sustainable drinking water sources. Your zip code or your income level should not dictate your access to healthy drinking water. That’s why I worked to secure provisions that will help smaller and lower-income communities connect to quality water supplies. As California again grapples with drought, I am proud my first amendment adopted by the Senate will support sustainable water projects.”

Padilla authored an amendment in the water bill to make stormwater reuse and groundwater recharge projects eligible for the newly reauthorized EPA Alternative Water Source Projects pilot program. This program supports efforts to conserve, manage, reclaim or reuse water resources. Developing sustainable water supplies is critical for California as it enters its second year of drought conditions.

Padilla also partnered with Senator Feinstein (D-Calif.) to allow water recycling projects to apply for EPA construction funding even if they’ve already received funding from the Bureau of Reclamation. Projects that receive Bureau of Reclamation funding for a feasibility study are currently prohibited from also applying for EPA construction funds.

As a member of the EPW committee, Padilla helped secure inclusion of the following provisions:

  • Reauthorization of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, known as WIFIA, which has provided $3.3 billion in financing for California water projects.
  • Grants to assist small and disadvantaged communities to connect low-income households that do not have safe drinking water to a municipal public drinking water system.
  • A new EPA pilot program, the Rural and Low-Income Drinking Water Assistance Pilot Program, which will address water affordability by providing direct financial assistance and debt relief to water systems serving predominantly low-income households.

This legislation now moves to the House of Representatives.

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