Last week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan and comprehensive Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 which included an amendment cosponsored by Senator Gillibrand that would provide the owners of private wells with access to federal funding to test and clean up PFAS contamination of their drinking water sources. The bill also authorizes funds to replace lead service lines, the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds, a pilot program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for low-income water assistance, and funding for rural and disadvantaged communities, among other measures.
“New Yorkers should be able to trust their water is safe, but unfortunately the water supplies of far too many communities across the state and country are contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I was proud to work alongside Senator Shaheen to ensure everyone—regardless of where they live—is able to access the critical resources needed to get these toxins out of their water. This bipartisan amendment will expand eligibility for Americans who have private wells and make it more affordable to upgrade their water infrastructure.”
The bipartisan amendment would modify the EPA’s Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities program to allow states to assist more households, including those who rely on private wells, impacted by unregulated contaminants like PFAS and heavy metals and carcinogens, such as lead, arsenic and radon. The amendment would expand eligibility of the program and provide states more flexibility to take on necessary and appropriate activities or projects that can help restore clean drinking water in communities facing contamination.
Currently, states may only use these funds on behalf of an underserved community, which is defined as a political subdivision of the state that has an inadequate system for obtaining drinking water. The bipartisan amendment would expand this provision to allow a state to use grants from the program for any community that the state determines to be a disadvantaged community (or one that may become a disadvantaged community) based on state affordability criteria. Under this amendment, states could also use grants from the program for projects that serve a community with a population of less than 10,000 that does not have the capacity to finance the project.
Senators Shaheen (D-NH), Collins (R-ME), King (I-ME), Rounds (R-SD) and Peters (D-MI) are also cosponsors.
Read the text of the amendment here.