Chicago, IL (March 31, 2021) – In a speech this afternoon, President Biden announced the American Jobs Plan which proposes significant investments in infrastructure. Alliance for the Great Lakes Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Programs Molly Flanagan issued the following statement in response to the announcement.

“Our work at the Alliance for the Great Lakes is focused on protecting the fresh, clean, and natural waters of the Great Lakes, which supply drinking water to millions of Americans. Therefore, we are encouraged to see President Biden make major water infrastructure commitments today during his speech in Pittsburgh, to the tune of $111 billion. Specifically, lead pipe replacement (allocated at $45 billion) and the modernization of America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure ($66 billion) are two critically important priorities for the Great Lakes region, and we look forward to seeing these investments in action. The American Jobs Plan also prioritizes natural infrastructure investments to better protect Great Lakes communities against some of the worsening impacts of climate change.

Due to decades of neglect, our current water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life, and the EPA has estimated that $188 billion over the next 20 years will be needed in improvements, upgrades, and repairs to these systems in the Great Lakes alone.

Simply put, it’s unacceptable that people don’t have access to safe, clean water in such a water-rich region due to the state of our infrastructure. The longer we wait to do something, the more expensive this problem becomes for taxpayers and the more vulnerable our waters are to the threats of climate change. Not only that, but the damage will continue to be disproportionately felt by the Great Lakes’ underserved rural communities and communities of color unless we create sustainable, equitable, and climate-resilient solutions.

Today’s speech was an important first step for the United States to begin repairing our water infrastructure, a subject that regularly enjoys support from both sides of the aisle and will lead to job creation in addition to the environmental and public health benefits. We are excited to continue working with the Biden administration and members of Congress to create a water infrastructure plan that works for all Great Lakes residents.”

###

Media contact: Jennifer Caddick, jcaddick@greatlakes.org