Senate to Vote on Bipartisan Shaheen Amendment to Address PFAS & Other Contaminants in Drinking Water Infrastructure Bill

April 29, 2021


**A senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen recently questioned top Biden administration officials on confronting PFAS contamination in water supplies**  

**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.** 

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate will vote on an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, a comprehensive drinking water and wastewater infrastructure package to increase economic growth, enhance the health and well-being of American families and prioritize environmental concerns.  

Shaheen’s bipartisan amendment would modify the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities program to allow states to assist more households, including those who rely on private wells, impacted by unregulated contaminants like PFAS and heavy metals and carcinogens, such as lead, arsenic and radon. Shaheen’s amendment would expand eligibility of the program to allow states to use funding on behalf of small and disadvantaged communities. Her bipartisan provision is co-sponsored by Senators Collins (R-ME), Gillibrand (D-NY), King (I-ME), Rounds (R-SD) and Peters (D-MI). The Senate is expected to vote on the bipartisan drinking and wastewater infrastructure package this afternoon. 

“Every Granite Stater and American should have full-faith in the safety of their drinking water when they turn on the tap,” said Senator Shaheen. “Unfortunately, too many communities have suffered from contaminated water supplies from emerging contaminants like PFAS or dangerous pollutants at levels that threaten public health. That has been the case for nearly 100,000 Granite Staters who utilize private wells and have unsafe levels of arsenic in their water. I wrote this amendment for them and for every family that’s been similarly impacted. More than half of New Hampshire’s population gets its drinking water from public water systems, with the remainder relying on private wells. They all deserve safe, clean drinking water. My bipartisan amendment and the investments that will flow from this water infrastructure bill will help us get us closer to that goal.” 

“Maintaining access to clean, reliable drinking water is essential to protect the health of the public, our environment, and the economy,” said Senator Collins. “All Americans should be able to have confidence that the water from their faucets is safe to use. Although Maine is home to some of the cleanest sources of water in the country, the increasing prevalence of pollutants like PFAS require action to keep our drinking water pure. Our amendment will help boost resources to protect water supplies in both public water systems and private wells in Maine and across the country.”

“New Yorkers should be able to trust their water is safe, but unfortunately the water supplies of far too many communities across the state and country are contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to work alongside Senator Shaheen to ensure everyone—regardless of where they live—is able to access the critical resources needed to get these toxins out of their water. This amendment would expand eligibility for Americans who have private wells and make it more affordable to upgrade their water infrastructure. This will provide much needed relief and ease the burden for the many New Yorkers whose private wells are currently contaminated with PFAS.” 

“Communities across Maine are struggling with the impacts of PFAS and other harmful contaminants in our nation’s water systems, which put our citizens’ health at risk, degrade our environment, and poison important farmland,” said Senator King. “In order to properly respond to these challenges, we must expand the federal resources available to local leaders. This bipartisan amendment will provide added flexibility for states and localities as they work to respond to the threats of these pollutants, and I am hopeful that it will be added with broad support.” 

“Families in Michigan and across our country — no matter who you are or where you live — deserve clean drinking water,” said Senator Peters. “We have seen the threat that PFAS contamination poses to our drinking water and public health. This bipartisan amendment will provide more federal resources for states to invest in efforts to clean-up our drinking water when contamination is detected, including in underserved areas and in drinking wells.” 

Text of Shaheen’s amendment is available here 

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. Shaheen has consistently secured and boosted federal funding for the PFAS health impact study that she worked to establish four years ago. Because of her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. The study at Pease is actively seeking participants. In February, Shaheen reintroduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to provide rural communities under economic strain during the COVID-19 pandemic with emergency assistance to repair, modernize and renovate failing water infrastructure. The Emergency Assistance for Rural Water Systems Act would provide $1 billion in emergency grants, low- and zero-interest loans and loan forgiveness for struggling small and rural water and wastewater systems across the nation. In addition, Shaheen recently joined a bipartisan group of Senators in urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to allow state, tribal, and local governments to use funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan to address contamination from PFAS, including in local water supplies. At Senator Shaheen’s insistence, government funding legislation passed by Congress and signed into law in December included $1 million in funding for new grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support the development of education courses on best practices for physicians who are caring for patients with significant PFAS exposure. Senator Shaheen and Senator Rounds (R-SD) previously partnered to introduce bipartisan legislation that would create grants for these best practices courses.