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Full U.S. Senate Set To Consider Major Water Infrastructure Bill

Carolyn Kaster/AP

The full U.S. Senate is set to consider a major bipartisan water bill that would provide upgrades to Arizona’s water infrastructure. It’s the first legislation to advance out of Senate committee related to the Biden-Harris administration’s recent sweeping infrastructure proposal. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The $35 billion Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act would invest in alternate water sources like desalination and storm and wastewater reuse.

One key component, however, is the reauthorization of the Indian Reservation Drinking Water Program, which would fund 10 tribal water projects a year in Arizona. 

"Too many tribal communities lack access to running water and don’t have wastewater infrastructure, and the drought conditions has made this worse … This $50 million annually is going to help tribes complete these water projects every year," says the bill's cosponsor Democratic Arizona Senator Mark Kelly.

It’s estimated about a third of residents on the Navajo Nation lack water in their homes, which has negative impacts on local economies and public health.

Kelly says much of Arizona’s water infrastructure is three decades old or more and as its population grows, upgrades would also benefit the state’s economy.

The Infrastructure Act also includes funding to prevent water waste as well as technologies to shield water systems from cyber threats, climate change, drought and wildfire.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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