(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) led a bipartisan group of Senators calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure funding allocated in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to combat per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in small and underserved communities is available to address contamination in residential wells.
“We write to reiterate our intent for this funding to be available for a wide array of projects and activities to address PFAS contamination in small and disadvantaged communities, including allowing for states to provide assistance to residents whose private wells are impacted by contamination of underground drinking water sources,” the Senators wrote. “We further encourage you to provide states flexibility and guidance on evaluating their underlying criteria for determining which communities are disadvantaged to ensure that those facing disproportionate impact from PFAS contamination may receive assistance through this program.”
“It is crucial that this funding be executed with the appropriate flexibility not only to support public water systems but also to help address contamination for those who rely on private wells,” the Senators continued. “With an estimated 23 million people or more nationwide relying on residential wells, it is important that the historic investments in safe drinking water help all families.”
The letter was also signed by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Gary Peters (D-MI), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).
The full text of the letter is available here.
Shaheen and Collins led an amendment to the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) to ensure state assistance through the small and disadvantaged communities program could be implemented appropriately. DWWIA was incorporated in the bipartisan infrastructure law that President Biden signed into law in November. Shaheen also co-led negotiations around the water infrastructure funding in the bipartisan infrastructure law and helped secure a total of $10 billion to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants, including $5 billion through the small and disadvantaged communities program. Availability of the first year of funding through this program was announced in June.
Senator Shaheen has spearheaded efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. Senator Shaheen has successfully included continued authorization and funding for the PFAS health impact study that she created in the 2018 defense legislation. In addition, as a senior member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Shaheen helped secure investments in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for New Hampshire in government funding legislation recently signed into law. Congress provided $1.638 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRFs) and $1.126 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund through the fiscal year 2022 government funding bill.
In May 2021, Senator Collins sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Council on PFAS, highlighting Maine’s extensive and unfortunate history with PFAS issues and urging the Council to work with the State of Maine on remediation. Additionally, Senator Collins joined a group of colleagues in calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to set standards on PFAS found in bottled water to ensure bottled water products are safe for drinking. The fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act authorized additional funding for research on the health impacts of PFAS, including an adopted amendment Senator Collins co-sponsored with Senator Shaheen authorizing an additional $15 million for the PFAS study being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.