The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Email:,info(at)fwwatch(dot)org,Seth Gladstone -,

Water Woes a Product of Inadequate Funding for Infrastructure Upgrades

Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch


"Today's New York Times article on
violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act underscores the profound challenges
facing municipalities around the country in delivering safe, clean water to
residents. Yet, it should not be taken as a reason to condemn the public ownership
of local water systems, nor should it erode public faith in government's
ability to safeguard this essential resource. If anything, it highlights a need
for government to be more responsive to the water crisis facing many
municipalities across the country.

"It comes as little surprise that much of the data cited
in the article came from a time when our nation's water systems were under the
so-called protection of the Bush administration, which maintained a notoriously
poor track record for upholding public health standards. Eighty-two percent of
the violations mentioned in the article were in systems that serve fewer than
3,300 people. Fining communities that fail to meet clean water standards is no
way of making sure that water quality issues are addressed, or that standards
of quality are reached. In fact, doing so would only worsen the financial
capacity of small towns to improve their water systems.

"These water quality issues correspond to a systematic
cutback in federal funding for water and sewer systems, which reached an all
time low during the 2008 budget year. Funding for the Drinking Water State
Revolving Fund has steadily declined over the last decade. From 2000 to
2008, federal funding to states for water fell from $970 million in 2008 dollars
to $815 million. Moreover, many of the pipes in the network that comprise our
nation's water infrastructure system were built over 80 years ago, and are
rapidly deteriorating as a result of neglect. When infrastructure quality
suffers, so does water quality.

"The best
approach to ensuring the integrity of our water and sewer infrastructure would
be to create a dedicated source of federal funding to ensure that local
municipalities have a consistent source of money to maintain their water
systems, thereby ensuring their ability to provide, safe, clean, affordable
water for residents. A Clean Water Trust Fund would achieve this goal, while
ensuring that local water utilities remain publically controlled, safe from the
pitfalls of risky privatization schemes, and ultimately rendering bottled water

"Water quality has proven too large and too vital of a
challenge for municipalities to address on their own. Federal Trust Funds
currently exist to support highways and botanical gardens. Water, a resource
utilized by all Americans, countless times a day, deserves the same

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

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