During my 25 years in Congress, I have never seen the nation’s citizens so focused on the state of our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. With the crisis in Flint and the drought in the West, Congress has been laser focused on our Country’s pressing water infrastructure needs.
Last week, I had the opportunity to address professionals from across the country who work with clean water utilities and were in town for the 2016 National Water Policy Forum & Fly-In. These are the professionals who are working hard in their communities to restore the health of our rivers, streams, and estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve addressed this group in prior years when I served in Congress and enjoyed working closely with them to ensure strong funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. So I was pleased to receive the invitation to address them again this year.
As leaders of one of the most important infrastructure sectors for our public health and economic security, they are on the front lines of ensuring our water systems perform the way we need them to, and they are the ones who must remind Congress what it must do in order to help them do this vital work. As a former Member of Congress who dealt with a myriad of issues daily, I know how difficult it can be to get Congress to focus and really understand what is at stake with our water resources. So, my advice was simple: don’t stop taking your case to your Member of Congress when you return home – force them to pay attention through regular meetings and contacts with them and their staff.
In fact, I suggested that they each hold town meetings on the critical water issues facing their communities and invite their Member of Congress to make remarks. By inviting Members of Congress to discuss water-related priorities at local town meetings with their constituents, they will need to educate themselves about the issues confronting their community and engage in a dialogue about ways to materially address them.
Water is our most vital natural resource – it ensures our public health, it sustains our economy and it nurtures our environment. It was important that the water professionals came to Washington. It’s more important that when they return home they make every week Water Week by making sure their communities and the Members of Congress who represent their communities engage aggressively in fixing what is a national crisis.
Congressman Jim Moran