By Khawla Rahman
Watching Flint crisis news spew out through media nearly every other day has naturally brought heightened caution to the average homeowner, whether or not they live in Flint itself. Representatives Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Ro Khanna of the San Francisco Bay Area have introduced the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act of 2018. The WATER Act calls for the creation of a trust fund that would provide $35 billion a year to community drinking and wastewater needs. It will also create approximately 1 million new jobs across the entire economy. The plan would push back a certain amount of the Trump Administration’s corporate tax cuts, while simultaneously increasing corporate income tax by 3.5 percentage points. The Act would do the following:
- Fully fund the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds
- Provide additional technical assistance to rural and small municipalities and Native American governments
- Increase funding to construct, repair, and service household drinking water wells
- Create a new grant program for the repair, replacement, or upgrading of household septic tanks and drainage fields
- Increase funding to Native American governments for water infrastructure
- Require EPA to coordinate a study about water affordability, discrimination by water and sewer providers, public participation in water regionalization efforts, and water shutoffs
- Restrict drinking Water SRF funding to publicly or locally owned systems
- Provide funding for public schools to test and replace drinking water infrastructure
- Provide grants to replace lead service lines serving households
In addition to all of the above, the EPA will conduct a nationwide survey on water affordability. The study will examine rates for water and sewer services: increases over the 10-year period preceding the study and effectiveness of funding. The study, in collaboration with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, will also explore discriminatory practices of water service providers. Plans that factor in many variables to increase effectiveness and reliability of water are important. This one is worth considering.
Khawla Rahman is a Communications student at Wayne State University. She is completing a public relations internship at Authority Health.