Water for the World

| November 12, 2010 Print

“The right to water, as all human rights, finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of merely quantitative assessment that considers water as a merely economic good. Without water, life is threatened. Therefore, the right to safe drinking water is a universal and inalienable right.”

-Pope John Paul II, Message on the 2003 World Day of Peace

ACTION ALERT

Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act (H.R. 2030) needs more cosponsors to ensure its immediate passage in the House.

BACKGROUND

On September 20 the U.S. Senate passed S. 624, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act.

This important legislation provides for the United States to extend first-time access to safe water and sanitation, on a sustainable basis, for 100 million people in countries where it is most needed by 2015, without authorizing any new spending. The Senate modified this bill to expand how the US would meet its goals. These modifications would significantly reduce the direct cost to the US government, and thus change the scoring of the bill.

The need for adequate drinking water and sanitation is great.  Almost 1 billion people still lack access to the minimum amount of safe drinking water that is necessary for basic health, and 2.4 billion people are without basic sanitation; 80% of sickness in the developing world, and the deaths of 4,500 children daily, trace back to contaminated water and inadequate sanitation.

ACTION REQUESTED

Send a letter to your Representative and urge him or her to support immediate House passage of the Water for the World Act, calling on House leadership to bring the Senate-passed version of this legislation to the House floor for a vote. A sample letter is provided on the attached page.

CONTACT INFORMATION

You can send a letter to your Representative through:

https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

For more information on the issue, contact:
Michelle Melcher Knight
Telephone: 301.565.4547
Michelle Melcher Knight, MSW
mmknight@columban.org or www.columban.org

Dear Representative _______________:

I write to urge you to support immediate House passage of the Water for the World Act, calling on House leadership to bring the Senate-passed version of this legislation to the House floor for a vote.

The Water for the World Act provides for the U.S. to extend first-time access to safe water and sanitation, on a sustainable basis, for 100 million people in countries where it is most needed by 2015.

There has been some confusion about the cost of the bill. The bill does not contain authorization for new funding. Approximately $300 – $500 million is already annually appropriated for these types of water and sanitation programs – and such funds would continue to help meet the goals of the improved law.

When the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of the bill, they scored the original version of the bill. The Senate modified this bill to expand how the US would meet its goals. These modifications would significantly reduce the direct cost to the US government, and thus change the scoring of the bill.

Investments in water and sanitation are extremely cost efficient – for every $1 invested in safe drinking water and sanitation, an estimated $8 is saved in work time, productivity and health care costs in poor countries.

As a person of faith, I believe in the dignity of all people and I am greatly concerned that 80 percent of sickness in the developing world, and the deaths of 4,500 children daily, trace back to contaminated water and inadequate sanitation. Diarrheal dehydration caused by these diseases kills more children than AIDS, malaria and TB combined. Almost 1 billion people still lack access to even the minimum amount of safe drinking water that is necessary for basic health, and 2.4 billion people are without basic sanitation.

Clean water is a key to every other aspect of development — from children’s education to economic growth and environmental sustainability. The Senate’s passage of the bipartisan Water for the World Act provides a rare opportunity for the House to act in the certainty that a bill will go to the President.

Thank you for working to get this vital legislation to the House floor for a vote!

Sincerely,

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