Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark toured the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s (MWRA) Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant Tuesday afternoon to help promote the clean water infrastructure provisions in the recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The bipartisan infrastructure law includes a $55 billion investment to ensure clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities. Massachusetts is slated to receive about $12.5 billion, with just over $1 billion dedicated to improving water infrastructure.
“This is a new law that makes unprecedented investments in our water infrastructure and makes sure that everyone will have access to clean, safe, drinking water,” said Clark. “Access to clean drinking water should be no question in Massachusetts or anywhere else in our country. Yet 10 million households and 400,000 schools and childcare centers lack cleaning drinking water in our country.”
Clark said she was proud to join President Biden and her colleagues in Congress to pass the infrastructure and jobs act to address the problems associated with the lack of clean drinking water, as well as other infrastructure issues.
“This act is going to provide $55 billion in federal funding to ensure safe drinking water is a right in every community, and this is the largest investment in clean water, and wastewater infrastructure in American history,” said Clark. “It will ensure that every American can access clean drinking water whether they are at home, at school, at work, at a childcare center, or in our Tribal Nations.”
Money in the bill will also be used to eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes and help to clean up dangerous PFAS chemicals (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), Clark said.
“This is about more than just the taste and the appearance of the water we drink,” she said. “Lead, for example, can cause irreversible and lifelong health problems.” Access to clean drinking water is a health issue, and a racial and economic justice issue, Clark said. “The work being done here by the MWRA and the local leaders who have joined us will turn these federal funds into a clean, modernized and strengthened water infrastructure,” she said.
MWRA Executive Director Fred Lasky said the infrastructure improvements will help serve communities such as Winthrop, Chelsea, Revere, and East Boston among others.
“The investment coming from the federal government is certainly going to help us get those jobs done,” said Lansky, who thanked Clark for all her hard work for the MWRA and all the people it serves.
“We are an organization that works in partnership with organizations like the MWRA and with the communities within this watershed to promote environmental health, community health, and climate resiliency,” said Patrick Herron, executive director of the Mystic Valley Watershed Association. Herron thanked Clark for her development and support of the infrastructure bill.
“We are grateful for this once in a lifetime investment in the much needed area of infrastructure,” said Herron. “In 2009, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts state legislature put together a water infrastructure finance commission that identified that we had $20 billion of funding needed to catch up on maintaining our drinking water and clean water infrastructure. Along with that, if we are thinking about all of the residents across Massachusetts, and the desire that they live healthy lives free from lead in drinking water … we have more work than ever to do.”