Senate passes historic drinking water and sanitation bill

Water Advocates applauded the Senate's unanimous consent passage of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (H.R. 1973) this evening. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced comparable legislation in the Senate (S. 492) earlier this year...

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 16, 2005 -- Water Advocates released the statement below following the Senate's unanimous consent passage of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (H.R. 1973) this evening. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced comparable legislation in the Senate (S. 492) earlier this year.

"Water Advocates commends the Senate for passing this critically important legislation which makes extending drinking water and sanitation a key initiative of US foreign policy," said David Douglas, president of Water Advocates.

"I would especially like to thank Senator Frist for his original leadership and vision on behalf of the need for Congressional legislation to respond to this catastrophic global health problem. As the Majority Leader has noted, 'It is long past the time when public attention needs to refocus on the devastation cause by this silent tsunami of unclean water and unsafe sanitation,'" continued Douglas.

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 percent of illnesses in the developing world. Access to safe, affordable, and sustainable supplies of water and adequate sanitation serves as a catalyst for better public health, education, economic development, poverty reduction, women's empowerment, conflict prevention, and environmental sustainability.

The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, introduced in the House by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), had been overwhelmingly passed by the House on November 7th with strong bipartisan support. Senator Frist and Congressman Blumenauer have worked closely together, across party lines, to ensure that this legislation was passed and signed into law as quickly as possible.

The bill was named for the late 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 US-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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In related news: "Water Advocates commends House for passing landmark drinking water, sanitation bill"

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