July 19, 2024

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FACT SHEET: On World Water Day, Biden-Harris Administration Builds on Historic Progress to Protect Clean Drinking Water, Restore Our Nation’s Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, and Wetlands

FACT SHEET: On World Water Day, Biden-Harris Administration Builds on Historic Progress to Protect Clean Drinking Water, Restore Our Nation’s Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, and Wetlands
FACT SHEET: On World Water Day, Biden-Harris Administration Builds on Historic Progress to Protect Clean Drinking Water, Restore Our Nation’s Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, and Wetlands

President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that every person should have access to clean drinking water and a healthy environment. On World Water Day, the Biden-Harris Administration is building on historic progress to secure clean water for all by announcing new actions to protect our vital freshwater resources and ensure every community can count […]

The post FACT SHEET: On World Water Day, Biden-Harris Administration Builds on Historic Progress to Protect Clean Drinking Water, Restore Our Nation’s Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, and Wetlands first appeared on Social Gov.

President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that every person should have access to clean drinking water and a healthy environment. On World Water Day, the Biden-Harris Administration is building on historic progress to secure clean water for all by announcing new actions to protect our vital freshwater resources and ensure every community can count on clean water when they turn on the faucet.

Rivers, lakes, wetlands, and other freshwater resources are fundamental to the health, prosperity, and resiliency of the nation, and sacred to many Tribes. Through the America the Beautiful Initiative and the global Freshwater Challenge, the Biden-Harris Administration is delivering on the first-ever national conservation goal to protect at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 – accelerating locally-led efforts to tackle the world’s intertwined water, climate, and nature crises.

To ensure that clean water reaches communities across the country, the Biden-Harris Administration is harnessing historic resources from the President’s Investing in America agenda to replace lead pipes and other drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, build resilience to drought, and conserve and restore our rivers, wetlands, lakes, and ponds. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law alone includes more than $50 billion to help ensure every community has access to clean water.

While the Biden-Harris Administration delivers on a national commitment to protect clean water, this week Congressional Republicans are continuing attempts to weaken the Clean Water Act. These attacks are part of a decades-long effort to undermine Clean Water Act safeguards, which culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett decision last year – one of the largest judicial rollbacks of environmental protections in U.S. history. A report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today reveals that from 2009-2019, the wetlands loss rate increased 50 percent over the prior decade, further showing the urgent need to use all the tools and resources available at the national, State, Tribal, and local level to protect and conserve America’s waters.

This World Water Day, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions and resources to advance the most ambitious clean water agenda in history:

  • The Army Corps of Engineers is releasing a new memorandum outlining ways it will support the protection, restoration, and enhancement of waters and wetlands that are more vulnerable following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett decision.
     
  • The White House Council on Environmental Quality is releasing a Wetland and Water Protection Resource Guide for Tribes, States, Territories, local governments, private land owners, and non-governmental organizations to advance water resource protection. The Resource Guide highlights technical assistance and funding opportunities available across the federal government.
     
  • NOAA is announcing $60 million from the President’s Investing in America agenda for fish hatcheries to produce salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin. This builds on a historic agreement the Biden-Harris Administration secured in partnership with Tribes and States in the Pacific Northwest to restore wild salmon and steelhead populations.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the Understanding Water Affordability Across Contexts, LIHWAP Water Utility Affordability Survey Reportwhich highlights the differences in water affordability across the country. President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget provides $4.1 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), helping families access home energy and weatherization assistance, and proposes to allow States the option to use a portion of those funds to provide water bill assistance to low-income households.

Today’s announcements build on a series of landmark investments and actions the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to protect and restore the nation’s freshwater resources by advancing conservation, building resilience, and expanding access to clean drinking water.

Protecting more than 26 million acres of lands and waters, putting President Biden on track to conserve more lands and waters than any President in history. Highlights of the Biden-Harris Administration’s water conservation accomplishments, driven by the America the Beautiful Initiative, include:

  • Safeguarding the Colorado River watershed by creating the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, protecting nearly one million acres of greater Grand Canyon landscape. President Biden’s designation honors Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples by protecting sacred ancestral places and their historically and scientifically important features, while conserving our public lands, protecting wildlife habitat and clean water, and supporting local economies. President Biden has also designated additional national monuments that protect freshwater resources, including the freshwater springs of Castner Range National Monument and the high alpine lakes of Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument.
     
  • Protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and surrounding watershed from mining, which would have harmed the area’s watershed, fish and wildlife, Tribal and treaty rights, and outdoor recreation economy. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a spectacular network of rivers, lakes, and forests in northeastern Minnesota that comprise the most heavily visited wilderness area in the United States. By withdrawing these lands from future mineral leasing, the Biden-Harris Administration is keeping the iconic area intact for future generations.
     
  • Addressing threats to Alaska’s Bristol Bay, the most productive wild salmon ecosystem in the world and home to 25 Tribal Nations. Six rivers meet in Bristol Bay, traveling through 40,000 miles of tundra, wetlands, and lakes. EPA acted to help protect these waters and the communities dependent upon them from contamination associated with developing the Pebble Mine.
     
  • Tackling transboundary water pollution in the Elk-Kootenai watershed to protect the people and species that depend on this vital river system. For over a decade, the Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples within the Elk-Kootenai watershed have requested that the U.S. and Canadian governments address pollution that has impaired downstream communities, fish populations, and ecosystems. Under President Biden’s leadership, the U.S. and Canadian governments have taken a key step with Ktunaxa Nation to achieve transboundary cooperation to protect clean water.
     
  • Restoring the flow of rivers and streams by investing $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to remove, repair, and redesign infrastructure that impede water flow. The first round of grants will fix or remove almost 170 fish culverts and improve approximately 550 miles of stream habitat across the country – with a total of $196 million awarded to Tribal, state, and local governments. Reconnecting these waterways reconnects communities to their rivers, increases ecological functions of the rivers and streams, and ensures that goods – traveling along these rural roads from farms to urban areas – make their way to market.

Making unprecedented investments and leading collaborative efforts to increase the resilience of our water ecosystems. Highlights of the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to build the resilience of our communities and waters include:

  • Delivering the largest single federal investment in the Everglades through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Years of human development have isolated portions of the Florida Everglades and altered natural flow patterns for freshwater, and the Everglades are already feeling the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. The Army Corps of Engineers has invested $1.1 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help restore the ecosystems and water flows of the Everglades’ two million acres of wetlands. Thriving wetlands will also filter out pollution to improve water quality for the one-third of Floridians who rely on the Everglades for drinking water, and will help improve resilience to flooding that impacts the state.  In addition, this month the Department of the Interior established the Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area, a four-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge, where tools like voluntary conservation easements can be used to protect wildlife corridors, enhance outdoor recreation access, and bolster climate resilience.
     
  • Leading a comprehensive effort to make Western communities more resilient to climate change and ongoing megadrought by harnessing the full resources of President Biden’s historic Investing in America agenda. As climate change has accelerated over the past two decades, the Colorado River Basin experienced the driest period in the region in over one thousand years. Together, the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provide the largest investment in climate resilience in our nation’s history, including $15.4 billion for western water to enhance the West’s resilience to drought and deliver unprecedented resources to protect the Colorado River System for all whose lives and livelihoods depend on it. Following extensive engagement with States, Tribes, and water users, the Administration announced a historic agreement to conserve at least 3 million-acre-feet of water in the Colorado River Basin through the end of 2026.
     
  • Restoring wild salmon, steelhead and other native fish, in the Columbia River Basin. Building on President Biden’s direction to Federal agencies, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a historic agreement to work in partnership with Pacific Northwest Tribes and States to restore wild salmon populations, facilitate the development of Tribally sponsored clean energy production, and provide stability for communities that depend on the Columbia River System. The Administration committed more than $1 billion to the effort, which will, among other things, be used to restore freshwater habitat.
     
  • Restoring the Klamath River Basin ecosystem and building drought resilience. With the removal of four dams underway, the Klamath Basin Drought Resilience Keystone Initiative is reestablishing wetlands and their functions, and advancing post-fire restoration efforts. The Department of the Interior, working in a whole of government approach, has leveraged funding from additional federal agencies as well as from Tribal, state, and other partners to restore the ecological function of the river and its associated river systems. The dam removals alone will open access to more than 400 miles of habitat for salmon and steelhead trout, help restore Tribal food sovereignty, and improve the health and water quality of the river.
     
  • Providing rapid-response American expertise to international partners on critical water and climate adaptation challenges. Through the Ambassador’s Water Experts Program (AWEP), the Department of State and the Department of the Interior have deployed over 30 U.S. experts to support more than 20 technical and capacity building engagements since 2019, and already have six AWEP engagements underway in 2024. AWEP works through U.S. diplomatic posts to respond to time sensitive requests for support on a broad range of water and climate resilience topics and promotes long-term collaboration on water security.
     
  • Strengthening data for decision-making and early warning systems to protect communities worldwide. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and USAID are working with over 50 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas through the SERVIR Initiative, which uses satellite data to address critical challenges in food security, water resources, weather and climate, land use, and water-related disasters. NASA is also working with the U.S. Department of State to provide advanced remote-sensing, modeling, and capacity building activities through the Strategic Hydrologic and Agricultural Remote-sensing for Environments Program, which brings data and technical resources to end-users in some of the most complex hydrologic domains in the world. These efforts are supported by the launch of NASA’s Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, a new satellite that will establish the first-ever global survey of Earth’s surface water. This innovation will improve our understanding of how water bodies change over time and will aid in freshwater management around the world.

Expanding access to clean drinking water and wastewater by investing more than $50 billion from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – the largest investment in clean water in American history. Highlights of this effort and other steps to address water pollution include:

  • Removing all lead service lines. Over 9 million homes, schools, and businesses receive their drinking water through a lead pipe. Exposure to lead can cause irreversible brain damage in children, even knocking off several IQ points. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic $15 billion in dedicated funding for lead pipe replacement, in support of President Biden’s goal of replacing all lead pipes within a decade.
  • Combatting toxic “forever chemicals” in drinking water and wastewater. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $10 billion to address harmful PFAS pollution in drinking water and wastewater. EPA has also proposed the first-ever national standard to address these “forever chemicals” in drinking water. This builds on President Biden’s action plan to combat PFAS pollution, safeguarding public health and advancing environmental justice.
  • Ensuring no community is left behind. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, nearly half of these clean drinking water and wastewater investments will be provided as grants or forgivable loans to disadvantaged communities, advancing President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. In addition, EPA has launched several initiatives to partner with underserved communities nationwide to provide the support and technical assistance they need to access clean water funding. EPA will partner with 200 communities to help them replace lead pipes, while the initiative will help an additional 150 communities execute wastewater and sanitation projects. For example, in Lowndes County, Alabama, roughly 90 percent of households have failing wastewater systems and many children and families are exposed to raw sewage in their own backyards. EPA and USDA have worked with the Lowndes County community of White Hall to secure over $500,000 in federal funding for wastewater projects. In nearby Hayneville, EPA has awarded a 100% forgivable $8.7 million loan to address failing or non-existent wastewater systems in 650 homes.
     
  • Investing more than $1 billion to restore the Great Lakesa vital economic engine that supplies drinking water for more than 20 million Americans, supports more than 1.3 million jobs, and sustains life for thousands of species. With the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is cleaning up and restoring the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites, including the Milwaukee Estuary in Wisconsin and the Cuyahoga River in Ohio.
     
  • Delivering clean water to Tribal NationsFor years, Tribal Nations have been left without access to safe, clean water for drinking and sanitation; today, approximately 48% of Tribal communities go without this human right. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has delivered $4.2 billion to date to provide safe, clean water for Tribal Nations and secure historic Tribal water rights. This includes over $8 million to remediate arsenic contamination that has been in the Hopi Tribe’s water supply since the 1960s. The Hopi Arsenic Management Project will make necessary infrastructure improvements to provide clean drinking water to over 5,000 people.
     
  • Increasing access to safe and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services around the world. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) recent annual report shows that since the passage of the Water for the World Act ten years ago, USAID’s water, sanitation, and hygiene investments have resulted in more than 42 million people gaining access to sustainable drinking water and 38 million gaining access to sustainable sanitation services. With a focus on climate resilience, inclusivity and gender equality, locally-led development, and private-sector engagement, these investments are contributing to progress toward UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 to achieve universal access to clean water and sanitation. 

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Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/03/22/fact-sheet-on-world-water-day-biden-harris-administration-builds-on-historic-progress-to-protect-clean-drinking-water-restore-our-nations-rivers-lakes-ponds-and-wetlands/

The post FACT SHEET: On World Water Day, Biden-Harris Administration Builds on Historic Progress to Protect Clean Drinking Water, Restore Our Nation’s Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, and Wetlands first appeared on Social Gov.