What Biden’s infrastructure plan means for rivers

This past week President Biden unveiled his American Jobs Plan, proposing a nearly $2.3 trillion investment in our national infrastructure. Does this bold plan do enough for rivers?

Canoeing through the heart of the Twin Cities on the Mississippi. | Photo: Greg Lais

This past week President Biden unveiled his American Jobs Plan, proposing a nearly $2.3 trillion investment in our national infrastructure. A game-changing investment of this size in modernizing our infrastructure and fighting the effects of climate change is a necessary step, but the question remains, does this bold plan do enough for rivers?

Last year we wrote the Rivers as Economic Engines report, which identifies a $500 billion need over the next 10 years in order to properly support for our waters. This includes investing $200 billion for improving water infrastructure, $200 billion for modernizing flood managements, and $100 billion for restoring watersheds in our community. President Biden exemplifies his own commitment to our nation’s water resources through his American Jobs Plan, which includes $111 billion to revitalize our nation’s antiquated water systems.

“Too many American families drink polluted water, lack access to affordable, high-speed internet, or experience power outages too often – all while paying more for those services. President Biden’s plan invests in the infrastructure necessary to finally deliver the water, broadband, and electricity service that Americans deserve.”

In an effort to remediate lead exposure in homes, schools and childcare facilities, President Biden aims to eliminate lead pipes and service lines completely by investing $45 billion in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and in Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) grants. To address the myriad of other issues facing our aging water systems, President Biden will modernize these systems by investing $56 billion in grants and low-cost flexible loans to states, Tribes, territories, and disadvantaged communities across the country. President Biden plans to stymie our nation’s most concerning emerging contaminants by allocating $10 billion to remediate and monitor PFAS in drinking water, and to invest in rural and small water systems.

“President Biden’s plan will protect and, where necessary, restore nature-based infrastructure – our lands, forests, wetlands, watersheds, and coastal and ocean resources. Families and businesses throughout the United States rely on this infrastructure for their lives and livelihoods.”

The American Jobs Plan maximizes the resilience of land and water resources by directing Congress to invest in protecting communities by building coastal resilience to sea-level rise and hurricanes. Congress is also directed to invest in the protection and restoration of major land and water resources like Florida’s Everglades National Park and the Great Lakes. In addition, President Biden takes aim at the western drought crisis by investing in water efficiency and recycling programs, Tribal Water Settlements, and dam safety.

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American Rivers applauds President Biden’s commitment to restoring watersheds, providing clean water, modernizing water infrastructure, and addressing water scarcity. The American Jobs Plan has the opportunity to re-energize our country and refocus our needs towards our most vital resource, water.

While this is a good start, it will not get us across the finish line. To finish the fight, American Rivers calls for investments of an additional $200 billion for improving water infrastructure, $200 billion for modernizing flood management, and $100 billion for restoring watersheds in our communities. With these added investments, we feel we move closer to a future of clean water and healthy rivers everywhere, for everyone.

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