NEWARK – As concerns over news of lead-contaminated water continue across the country, including the recent discovery of elevated lead levels in the water supply of many Newark public schools, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker are pushing to boost investments in water infrastructure repairs to ensure clean and safe drinking water across New Jersey.
“The crisis in Flint and the recent revelations of lead contamination in the drinking water at our Newark public schools shines a bright light on the failure to invest in our aging and often crumbling infrastructure,” said Menendez. “No family should have to worry about the water their children drink. That’s why we must give our states and cities the tools they need to fix, upgrade and replace these failing systems that threaten the health of our families, our environment and our economy.”
“Under no circumstance should we jeopardize the health of our children and families due to inadequate investment in our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure,” said Booker. “Recent developments in Newark reinforce the fact that lead in our drinking water is a national issue that requires a robust response from every level of government. That’s why I stand committed to fighting for the federal resources needed to help finance critical water infrastructure upgrades that will create jobs, spur economic growth and most importantly protect the health and safety of our communities in New Jersey and across the nation.”
In a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Menendez and Booker, joined a bi-partisan group of senators to press for at least $1.394 billion in funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and $863.2 million in funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Together, these programs provide low cost financing to states and cities for a wide range of water infrastructure development projects.
Menendez joined several other Democratic senators in sending a separate letter to Murkowski and Udall, pressing for $70 million in 2016 funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
The new program provides low-cost loans to local governments that struggle with finding affordable financing options for replacing or upgrading water infrastructure.
The $70 million in WIFIA funding would help to leverage approximately $700 million in financing for water infrastructure projects across the country.
Earlier this month, Menendez unveiled the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016 to bring blood lead level standards in low income, federally assisted housing in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
He has also introduced the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act, cosponsored by Sen. Booker, which would leverage private financing for large-scale water infrastructure projects like replacing lead pipes.
Both Menendez bills have been included in the federal Lead and Clean Water Agenda package currently being developed in Congress.
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