The Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act (AQUA), PFAS Action Act, and the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act concerning water infrastructure and PFAS contamination have been approved by the Environment & Climate Change subcommittee.
The bills are all aimed at upgrading the U.S.’s antiquated water infrastructure and providing assistance to help financially strapped Americans with water bills.
AQUA would give local communities federal money to update infrastructure including the replacement of all lead service lines still being used. There are millions of lead service lines currently in use, 400,000 of those in schools and childcare facilities, according to Chairman of the subcommittee, Congressman Paul Tonko.
AQUA would also provide a lifeline to water companies who agree to temporarily put a hold on shutting off the water to customers financially struggling.
“Each day, millions of Americans are exposed to dangerous and potentially deadly chemicals in their drinking water as a result of unchecked pollution and crumbling, outdated water systems,” said Rep. Tonko.
The PFAS Action Act would create a national standard for the presence of PFAS in drinking water. It would also classify PFAS as a hazardous chemical which would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up PFAS contaminated sites, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The act would also put a limit on how much PFAS industries can discharge and would make $200 million available each year to help water utilities and wastewater treatment facilities, said EWG.
The Low Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act helps low-income households pay for water and wastewater bills, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The updated 2021 version of the bill would make this assistance permanent, said Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association Inc.