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Bipartisan Booker Bill to Address Wastewater Needs of Lower Income Communities Advances through Key Senate Committee

Legislation to provide grants to low- and moderate-income households to install or upgrade wastewater systems included in committee-passed Farm Bill

June 13, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan bill authored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Doug Jones (D-AL) that would modify an existing grant program to help low- and moderate-income households install or upgrade individually-owned decentralized wastewater systems has advanced through the Senate Agriculture Committee today as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Booker, Capito, and Jones introduced the legislation in April as part of a package of bills aimed at addressing the wastewater challenges faced by rural communities, low-income communities, and communities of color.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than a million homes across the U.S. lack adequate plumbing, and nearly 200,000 lack a sewage system altogether – meaning these homes do not have an adequate method for disposing of human waste.

“Many communities across the U.S. lack access to basic sewage systems, and disproportionately those communities are home to low-income individuals and people of color,” Booker said. “I saw this lack of access first-hand when I visited Alabama last year – I visited homes with straight-pipes that deposited raw sewage directly into people’s yards. This issue goes to the core of the larger issue of environmental injustice in this country.

“I’m encouraged that my Senate colleagues from both parties are taking this issue seriously and today, as part of a larger bill, advanced my legislation that will provide better access to wastewater infrastructure for people who desperately need it.”

The legislative language advanced today is part of Senator Booker’s ongoing efforts to combat environmental injustice. Since his time as a tenant lawyer, City Council member, and mayor of Newark, Booker has seen first-hand how low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by poor air quality, tainted drinking water, and toxic Superfund sites. For example, Newark has one of the highest rates of child asthma in the state, and half of all New Jerseyans live within three miles of a Superfund site.

Last year, Booker authored the landmark Environmental Justice Act of 2017, which would strengthen legal protections against environmental injustice for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities.

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