Senate Approves Global Clean Water Legislation

“The U.S. Senate Monday approved a bill intended to help 100 million people around the world gain access to clean water and sanitation,” United Press International reports (9/20).

“The Water for the World Act places water in the forefront of America’s development priorities, seeking to reach 100 million people around the world with sustainable access to clean water and sanitation over the next six years,” states a press release from Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) office. Corker along with Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), introduced the bill in the Senate. The bill seeks to build on the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, which “made access to safe water and sanitation for developing countries a specific policy objective of the United States Foreign Assistance Program,” according to the release.

The legislation aims to help countries build their own capacities for addressing water and sanitation issues; provides seed money for the use of clean water technologies; and expands “human infrastructure” at USAID and the State Department to ensure clean water and sanitation programs are implemented effectively (9/21).  

“Access to safe drinking water is a right that everyone in the world ought to enjoy but too few are able to realize,” Durbin said, UPI writes. “Water access is no longer simply a global health and development issue; it is a mortal and long-term threat that is increasingly becoming a national security issue,” Durbin said.

Corker said the bill would improve U.S. foreign aid efforts, even as “foreign aid dollars are limited.” A lack of clean water “stifles economic growth, keeps women and girls from going to work and school, and has contributed to political unrest in Sudan and elsewhere,” he said.

“The bill next goes to the House, where two Democratic members, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Donald Payne of New Jersey, have introduced similar legislation,” according to UPI (9/20).

Calling the Senate’s passage of the bill “a major bipartisan achievement,” Blumenauer in a press release said, “By working to provide clean water for the first time to 100 million people, we can bring safety and stability to regions where access to water has been a major cause of conflict” (9/20).

Kaiser’s Policy Tracker tool features information about both bills: S. 624 – Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009 and H.R. 2030 – Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009.

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