The issue of access to safe drinking water hits home with the Catholic community because it affects the poor and vulnerable the most.
In the encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis preaches, “Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival.”
Unfortunately, 30% of the globe is denied this right. As a matter of fact, Illinois contains the most lead service lines in the United States and Chicago being the worst offender.
This is an issue of public health and human life because contaminated water can lead to serious health problems for the poor and the surrounding community.
President Biden’s first Congressional address reported that, ” up to 10 million homes in America and more than 400 thousand schools and child-care centers have pipes with lead in them, including drinking water.”
In response, Sen. Tammy Duckworth proposed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA 2021). This would authorize over $35 billion toward upgrading water infrastructure to replace all the lead service pipelines in the country.
This bipartisan act passed the Senate committee unanimously and passed in the Senate. DWWIA 2021 is being debated in the House of Representatives.
Pope Francis wrote that, “The dramatic statistics of thirst, especially the situation of those people who get sick and often die because of unhealthy water, is a huge shame for the humanity of the 21st century.” It is important that Congress addresses this dire need as Pope Francis does.