EPA’S ​Role in ​Addressing the ​Urgent Water ​Infrastructure ​Needs

EPA’S ​Role in ​Addressing the ​Urgent Water ​Infrastructure ​Needs

EPA’S Role in Addressing the Urgent Water Infrastructure Needs of Environmental Justice Communities 
August 2018

Ensuring that all Americans have affordable, reliable, and sustainable access to safe drinking water and appropriate wastewater treatment and disposal is a defining problem of the 21st century.

Providing access to clean, affordable water requires extensive infrastructure, collective protections, and government regulations.

Congress enacted the Clean Water Act (1972) and the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974), which provide the legal foundation to safeguard public health, protect the environment, and provide access to safe and clean water across the country.

The Environmental Protection Agency develops standards and regulations and implements programs to ensure that state and local regulators and utilities understand their responsibilities and have the tools to treat water and sewage to deliver potable water to millions of residents. However, water infrastructure demands, costs, and complexity mean many Americans do not have access to clean, affordable water, and sanitation.

American public water systems and communities of all sizes are grappling with the need for water infrastructure maintenance or improvements to ensure clean, safe, accessible, and affordable drinking water and treatment of wastewater.

Rising rates are making basic water and wastewater service unaffordable for lowincome consumers across the country. People are faced with choosing between paying their rent or paying their water and sewerage bills. Aging infrastructure, deferred maintenance, changes in regulations, limitations on water resources, and outside stressors increase the complexity and cost of ensuring access to the basic public health needs of safe drinking water and adequate wastewater treatment.