WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wisconsin’s U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin recently joined U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and several Senate Democrats in introducing the Testing, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016, or True LEADership Act (S.2821), a comprehensive plan that recommits the federal government to a critical role in water infrastructure investment, lead remediation and the strong drinking water protections provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Incidents like the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan, underscore the dangers that can result when the safety of our drinking water and state of our water infrastructure is not made a priority. The True LEADership Act will have nationwide reach, addressing the scourge of lead-laden water and housing across the country. It also will improve our nation’s water infrastructure, while creating thousands of new jobs.
“Communities across the United States are facing serious challenges in protecting their water supplies to keep families and their children safe,” said Senator Baldwin. “The historic failure seen in Flint should serve as a call to act quickly and comprehensively to invest in better solutions."
Senator Baldwin championed two major reforms in the True LEADership Act:
· Accelerate water technologies: Senator Baldwin’s reform would accelerate the deployment of water technologies that could address all types of water problems. While there are many companies that are developing these technologies, there is no functioning market for their deployment. The reform would create a federal role for accelerating the testing, deployment and encouraging the commercialization of technologies, including sensors in pipes to report when water is unsafe, innovative treatment systems for livestock waste, green infrastructure, and updated stream gauges, etc. which can help reduce the costs of variety of water problems, such as upgrading water infrastructure and treating manure that runs into surface waters.
· Require 100 percent American-made, taxpayer-produced iron and steel in public drinking water systems: Senator Baldwin’s reform would require that the iron and steel used in our public drinking water systems is American-made. This ensures that the water our children drink is carried through high-quality pipes manufactured right here in the United States, not in a foreign country with lower quality controls.
Additional reforms included in the True LEADership Act include:
· Increasing investments in our water infrastructure, particularly through a new grant program specifically designed for projects that reduce lead in tap water
· Establishing a mandatory, nationwide requirement for states to report elevated levels of lead in children
· Establishing mandatory testing and notification of lead in water systems
· Key reforms to HUD authorities and a new tax credit for homeowners to remove lead·
A new grant program for schools to aid children with the effects of lead poisoning
This new legislation, through a combination of loans, grants and tax credits, would inject over $70 billion over the next 10 years into water infrastructure and lead relief programs. For every public dollar we invest in upgrading our water infrastructure, our GDP grows by more than $6.