Walden: Making bipartisan progress on safe drinking water

Walden: Making bipartisan progress on safe drinking water.
Many of these pipes were laid in the early to mid-20th century with an expected lifespan of 75 to 100 years.
Our legislation focuses on addressing drinking water systems’ physical needs, aiding states and utilities with compliance and operation of the drinking water program, and encouraging the wisest use of money that is spent.
From the end of 1997 through 2016, Oregon has received more than $274 million in grants to help improve the safety and quality of tap water, comply with drinking water rules and reporting requirements, and give a helping hand to the most economically distressed communities struggling to provide their residents safe drinking water.
This fiscal year, Oregon is set to receive nearly $12 million in funding to improve its water systems.
In Umatilla County, the city of Pendleton is upgrading more than 30 miles of water lines that are nearly a century old — Mayor John Turner said this project would be impossible without the program.
Our bill, the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, continues those important investments and authorizes $8 billion over five years for the drinking water fund while also expanding the number of ways in which the fund can be used to improve delivery systems.
In fact, we’re authorizing an increase of $350 million in funding for next year from which states such as Oregon could benefit.
The ability to have up-to-the-minute information helps ensure water is safe and clean, system leaks and recent contamination are identified quickly, and the accuracy and availability of compliance data is maintained.
We also included a program to help our schools replace drinking fountains that might contain lead.

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