Sanders Holds Meeting Focused on Vermont’s Water Infrastructure Needs

BURLINGTON, Vt., May 5 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Friday held a broad ranging meeting with drinking water and wastewater facility operators, town managers, water quality experts, and state and federal officials  to discuss Vermont’s water infrastructure needs.

“It is no secret that much of our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, including in Vermont. Every day, Americans see bridges in disrepair, congested roads with potholes, and inadequate public transit,” Sanders said. “But just as worrisome is the crumbling infrastructure that people don’t see, especially our water and wastewater systems.”

While Vermont is in a better position than the nation as a whole, crucial improvements must be made to the state’s water infrastructure: 2 percent of Vermonters drink water from a system with known health violations. During the next 20 years, according to estimates, Vermont must invest $510 million to upgrade small community water systems, alone.

In terms of wastewater, there are tens of thousands of sewer overflows throughout the United States annually. Over the next 25 years, an estimated $271 billion is needed to address immediate needs and increase the capacity of treatment plants. In Vermont last year, more than 150 overflows released millions of gallons of untreated wastewater and stormwater into Lake Champlain and its tributaries.
“Clean, safe, and reliable drinking water and wastewater treatment are essential to economic development, public health and our environment,” said Sanders, who serves on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Without adequate water infrastructure, towns can’t attract businesses.  Municipalities cannot deliver safe drinking water. And overburdened wastewater plants will continue to discharge sewage into waterways.”

Earlier this year, Sanders helped draft a $1 trillion proposal to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The “Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure” includes funding for water systems as well as roads, bridges, railways, broadband networks, VA hospitals, schools and airports throughout the United States.

“When we rebuild our infrastructure, we rebuild the middle class because we can create 15 million decent-paying jobs in all areas of life: in urban America, in rural America, for all of our people,” Sanders said.

“If we fully funded our water infrastructure needs alone, we would see over $220 billion in new economic activity, every year,” Sanders said.