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For Immediate Release
Contact: Communications Director, John Sauer,jsauer (AT) or 202-293-4003

Water for the World Act of 2009 Vital for Addressing Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation Crisis

Water Advocates Commends New Global Water & Sanitation Bill


Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives on Earth Day would put the United States in the lead of responding to the worldwide crisis in drinking water and sanitation. The new bill, "The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009," commits the U.S. to extending safe, affordable and sustainable supplies of water and sanitation to 100 million people by 2015. Joining companion legislation introduced in the Senate last month, this major bipartisan initiative would put the U.S. in the forefront of addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for drinking water and sanitation.

Water Advocates commends Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), George Miller (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), John Boozman (R-AZ), Dan Burton (R-IN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Zach Wamp (R-TN) and the Senate's lead sponsors who introduced companion legislation in March: Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Corker (R-TN) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

"No other country has set out to reach as many people in need of safe drinking water and basic sanitation in this period of time," said David Douglas, President of Water Advocates. "This is one of the most effective actions the United States can take to improve health worldwide."

Nearly a billion people currently lack access to safe water, and 2.5 billion people lack a way to dispose of their human wastes safely. More than two dozen resulting diseases-including cholera, typhoid, hookworm and schistosomiasis-trigger the world's most serious public health problem. Diarrheal dehydration caused by these diseases kills more children than AIDS, malaria and TB combined.

Development experts point out that inadequate water and sanitation undermine not only global health but efforts to protect the environment, keep children in school, and empower women. Women and children, as the primary water-haulers across the developing world, bear the brunt of this crisis.

"The Water for the World Act answers the call to act and helps build a healthier, safer and more equitable future," said bill sponsor Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

The bill would also strengthen the capacity of USAID and U.S. Department of State to ramp up U.S. developmental and diplomatic leadership, while buttressing American private-citizen initiatives to provide safe, affordable and sustainable drinking water and basic sanitation. The bill builds on the similarly-named landmark 2005 legislation ("The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act") that at long last made safe drinking water and sanitation a priority of U.S. foreign development assistance.

"This new legislation is critical for bringing support-both financial and human-for the water and sanitation crisis to respectable levels," said Patricia Simon, wife of the late Senator Paul Simon. "We shouldn't forget that this problem is solvable; we know the solutions."

Water Advocates is the first US-based nonprofit organization dedicated solely to increasing American support for worldwide access to safe, affordable and sustainable supplies of drinking water and adequate sanitation.