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U.S. Senate Passes Water Infrastructure Bill Funding Arizona Tribal Water Projects

AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca

The U.S. Senate Thursday passed a bipartisan bill to update the nation’s aging water systems. Many of its provisions are aimed at preventing water waste in areas like Arizona hard hit by drought. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The $35 billion Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act is the first legislation related to the Biden-Harris administration’s sweeping infrastructure proposal to advance out of the Senate. It would invest in alternate water sources like storm and wastewater reuse and desalination projects. It would also shore up the nation’s water systems against climate change, drought, wildfire and cyber threats.

Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is a cosponsor, and says it includes $50 million a year for tribal drinking water projects.

"There are a lot of communities that don’t have access to running water even now. I’m talking about just basic water infrastructure. Tribal communities still often lack access," says Kelly.

The bill reauthorizes the Indian Reservation Drinking Water Program, which would fund 10 projects in Arizona alone each year through the Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. House of Representatives will now consider the Water Infrastructure Act.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as 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 frequent contributor to NPR.
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