American Rivers Urges Presidential Candidates to Commit to Ensuring Clean Drinking Water for Every American

Clean Water Trust Fund needed to repair water infrastructure, restore river health

February 18th, 2016

(Washington) – As the nation awaits the Republican and Democratic debates in Michigan early next month, American Rivers called on each presidential candidate to commit to ensuring every American has access to clean drinking water. Against the backdrop of the ongoing health crisis in Flint, Michigan, American Rivers said that $1 trillion is needed to ensure 21st century water infrastructure and healthy rivers nationwide.

The President of American Rivers, Bob Irvin, made the following statement:

“The crisis in Flint is a stark reminder of the critical importance of clean water supplies to our health and our communities. The disaster in Flint comes on the heels of other high-profile water crises – the mining waste release in Colorado’s Animas River, the drinking water ban in Toledo, Ohio, and the chemical spill in West Virginia’s Elk River. Flint is not an outlier. Communities across the U.S. face similar threats.

Americans are wondering if their communities and water supplies are next.

Our country is facing a clean water crisis. Modernizing our water infrastructure and investing in healthy rivers – our most important source of drinking water – must go hand-in-hand. Our health, economy and future are all at stake.

In addition to moving swiftly to fix the problem in Flint, we believe that every river in the country should be safe as a drinking water source and clean enough for swimming and fishing. We believe every American should have access to safe drinking water in their homes. We challenge the presidential candidates from both parties to embrace these goals and commit to an unprecedented national investment in clean water.

Too often a crisis like Flint invokes promises of funding and reform that are ultimately forgotten once the crisis fades. To solve this problem, we must establish a Clean Water Trust Fund to provide consistent funding to address our water infrastructure problems.

This trust fund will protect and restore our rivers and bring our water infrastructure into the 21st century. An investment of $1 trillion in clean water would pay dividends for generations to come. By comparison, our nation spent $1.7 trillion on the Iraq war.

For about 35 cents per person per day, spread over 25 years, we can secure clean water in cities and towns across America. What parent wouldn’t spend 35 cents a day, less than the cost of a daily cup of coffee, to ensure the health and well-being of their child?

This investment would not only improve public health and the environment. Every $1 spent on water infrastructure in the U.S. generates $3 in economic growth.  An investment in the future of America’s drinking water supplies would create jobs and spur economic growth in some of our communities that have been hardest hit by job losses over the past decade.

When our country comes together, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. It is time for an unprecedented commitment to our nation’s clean water. We urge the presidential candidates from both parties to make healthy rivers and clean water for every American a top priority.”

American Rivers released the following questions for the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in advance of the Michigan debates:

Our nation’s clean water crisis: Three critical questions for the next President

  • President Roosevelt pulled America out of the Great Depression with the New Deal. President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson got us to the moon. Now, as the tragic situation in Flint illustrates, we need an effort of similar scale and vision for clean water. Rivers are the source of drinking water for two out of three Americans. What is your plan to harness American resources and ingenuity to ensure healthy rivers and safe drinking water for all?
  • The Clean Water Act of 1972 was supposed to guarantee all of the nation’s rivers are swimmable and fishable. But sadly, that has yet to be achieved. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that 44 percent of assessed waterways are too polluted for fishing or swimming, and many communities including Flint lack access to safe drinking water. If elected, what will you do to ensure that the Clean Water Act’s promise is fulfilled during your Presidency?
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our nation’s water infrastructure, including water treatment systems and dams, a D grade in its “Report Card on the Nation’s Infrastructure”. Will you commit the resources necessary to significantly improve that grade by the end of your first term in office?

Media availability

Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers, is available for media interviews regarding our nation’s clean water crisis, and how the next President of the United States can ensure clean drinking water and healthy rivers nationwide.

For interviews, contact Amy Kober, 503-708-1145 or akober@americanrivers.org


###

About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.