Water Advocates commends House for passing landmark drinking water, sanitation bill

Water Advocates today commended the U.S. House of Representatives for overwhelmingly passing H.R. 1973, the Sen. Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005. This landmark legislation will make safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy...

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 7, 2005 -- Water Advocates today commended the U.S. House of Representatives for overwhelmingly passing H.R. 1973, the Sen. Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005. This landmark legislation will make safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.

The legislation was introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and strongly supported by Chairman of the Committee on International Relations Henry Hyde (R-IL). Similar legislation in the Senate, introduced by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and cosponsored by Minority Leader Hary Reid (D-NV), has received strong bipartisan support as well.

The majority of preventable deaths in the world stem from contaminated drinking water and inadequate sanitation, which together kill between 2 and 5 million people each year -- mostly children under five. Waterborne diseases cause over 80% of illnesses in the developing world.

"I would like to thank the Members of the House for their overwhelming support of this critical legislation that significantly elevates the importance of safe, affordable drinking water and adequate sanitation in U.S. foreign aid policy," said David Douglas, president of Water Advocates. "In a time of much partisanship it's encouraging to see our country's leaders coming together with legislation that helps those in need, promotes US goodwill abroad, and responds to the calamitous global health toll caused by inadequate drinking water and sanitation."

This legislation:
• Makes expanding access to safe and affordable drinking water and adequate sanitation a major foreign policy objective of the United States.

• Requires the State Department and USAID to develop a strategy for U.S. water and sanitation efforts abroad, and directs USAID to implement those projects.

• Recognizes water access as critical to U.S. national security efforts and directs the Administration to expand programs that promote trans-boundary cooperation on water issues.

• Acknowledges clean water and sanitation as a catalyst for public health, education, economic development, poverty reduction, women's empowerment, conflict prevention, and environmental sustainability.

The bill was named for the late U.S. Senator from Illinois, Paul Simon, who was a Congressional pioneer in recognizing the need and advocating for drinking water and sanitation worldwide.

Water Advocates is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing American support for worldwide access to safe, affordable, and sustainable drinking water and adequate sanitation. For more information go to www.wateradvocates.org.

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