New Analysis of Public Water Systems Emphasizes Need to Address Source Pollution

For Immediate Release

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Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch (202) 683-2500

New Analysis of Public Water Systems Emphasizes Need to Address Source Pollution

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

WASHINGTON - "Recent media coverage on contaminants in public drinking water supplies has obscured the root causes of many of our water woes. Rather than vilifying public tap water, we should instead examine the reasons for the compromised quality of this essential public resource.

"According to EPA's integrated national water quality assessment database, industrialized agriculture is one of the biggest probable sources of impairment to water resources, polluting 100,000 miles of rivers and streams and 1.6 million acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds around the U.S. The destructive nature of certain agricultural practices, and their impact on the environment and public health, deserves considerable scrutiny and a more prominent place in the conversation about public water quality. So too does the health of our nation's wastewater systems, another source of water contamination, according to EPA. Some 38,000 miles of our nation's rivers and streams, and some 600,000 acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds are polluted due to problems with our municipal sewage systems, many of which occur as a result of deteriorating infrastructure.

"In addition to addressing the underlying causes of water pollution, the federal government needs to create a steady stream of funding for public water infrastructure systems so that municipalities can modernize local drinking and wastewater systems, thereby delivering safe, clean, affordable tap water to all their customers, while preventing much of the contamination that results from aging pipes. A Clean Water Trust Fund would achieve this goal.

"Many large municipal water systems could also benefit from increased investment in the form of municipal bonds. While currently sluggish, a movement is afoot to stimulate this market. HR 1669, the ‘Federal Municipal Bond Marketing and Securitization Act of 2009,' would provide a federal guarantee for municipal bondholders' investment in the case of default. Food & Water Watch urges Congress to adopt HR 1669. Federally guaranteeing municipal bonds would enable them to be sold at record-low interest rates, saving municipalities 10 percent to 20 percent over the life of the bond. These savings could encourage more spending on water infrastructure improvements, and greatly improve water quality throughout the U.S.

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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