Americans used to take water for granted, but the water shutoff in Detroit has taught us all-important lessons. We now know that the private sector is willing to be ruthless in denying access to the most basic needs of living beings, and we also know that even those who have the least resources can also have power – if they are organized.
Knowing these facts can prepare us all for the current fight over the privatization of water. Here are the basic facts as to the players and the events that are leading us to this water war.
On May 21, as the Senate prepared to vote on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA), Senator Boxer spoke on the critical roles the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) section would play. Said Boxer,
We also have a new initiative to assist localities in need of loans for flood control or wastewater and drinking water infrastructure to receive those loans from a new funding mechanism we have named WIFIA, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
WIFIA will allow localities an opportunity to move forward with water infrastructure projects in the same way that TIFIA works in the transportation sector. Where there is a local source of funding to reimburse the federal government, the federal government can front the funds in order to speed up the process.
These funding arrangements supplement existing programs and will help to leverage more investment in our nation’s aging infrastructure. The conference report also updates the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to ensure that our existing sources of water infrastructure funding are able to continue to meet pressing infrastructure needs.
The conference report authorizes 34 critical Army Corps projects where the Chief of Engineers has completed a comprehensive study. These projects will strengthen infrastructure that protects lives and property, restore vital ecosystems to preserve our natural heritage, and maintain navigation routes for commerce and the movement of goods. IND
There is no question that we have long needed a new water law that can accomplish all these goals.