President signs bipartisan drinking water bill

U.S. commits to solving leading cause of sickness in the world. Water Advocates calls bill "most significant global legislation passed by this Congress." U.S. Rep. Blumenauer, a co-sponsor, adds: "The Water for the Poor Act highlights that because of lack of access to safe water and sanitation, one child dies unnecessarily every 15 seconds. Access is critical to achieving United States development objectives, such as fighting poverty and promoting girls' education"...

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 2, 2005 -- Water Advocates released the statement below following President Bush's signing of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (H.R. 1973) into law. Water-related diseases are the leading cause of sickness and death in the world, killing between 2 and 5 million people every year, most of them children under five years old.

The new law came as a result of tremendous bipartisan efforts made by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). Rep. Blumenauer and Sen. Frist originally authored legislation in the both the House and Senate.

"Water Advocates thanks President Bush and all the Members of Congress who supported this critical legislation," said David Douglas, president of Water Advocates. "In today's fractured Congress it is inspiring to see so many Members on both sides of the aisle coming together to help solve this persistent need. This bill will have an enormous impact on lives around the globe."

"The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act is the most significant global legislation passed by this Congress," said Ambassador John McDonald, Chairman of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy and a leader in global drinking water issues for almost thirty years. "This bill provides the platform on which we can advance U.S. action and implementation, as well as build on the Millennium Development Goals and the UN Decade of Water adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2003."

Waterborne diseases cause over 80% of illnesses in the developing world. Access to adequate drinking water and sanitation serves as a catalyst for better public health, education, poverty reduction, and women's empowerment.

This passed legislation creates an opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of lives by extending safe water to those most in need. It also makes drinking water and sanitation a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy and directs the Department of State to come up with an overall strategy to be implemented by the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID).

The Water for the Poor Act was overwhelmingly passed by the House on Nov. 7 with strong bipartisan support, passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Nov. 16, and was signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 1.

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 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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In related news: President Signs Sen. Paul Simon 'Water for the Poor' Act

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