Ensuring Adequate Water Infrastructure for All in the 21st Century
WHEREAS, the western United States is in a severe drought, and water supply infrastructure is severely needed; and
WHEREAS, minorities tend to live in places that are worst hit by the impacts of climate change, and their poverty exacerbates their vulnerability; and
WHEREAS, water Quality and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund Programs (RLF) receive federal funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The funds are used to provide low interest rate loans to finance water quality and drinking water capital projects; and
WHEREAS, as a condition of federal grant awards, EPA regulations require that loan recipients and sub-recipients (i.e., prime contractors and subcontractors) make a good-faith effort to award a fair share of work to disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE's) who are small business enterprises (SBE's), minority business enterprises (MBE's) and women's business enterprises (WBE's); and
WHEREAS, water infrastructure is vital to our nation's well-being for reasons that are well documented and known; and
WHEREAS, water infrastructure protects public health and the environment, supports the local and national economies, protects us from fires, creates jobs, and brings us a better quality of life. Moreover, the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates that for every dollar spent on water infrastructure, about $2.62 is generated in the private economy. In addition, for every job added in the water workforce, the BEA estimates 3.68 jobs are added to the national economy, and
WHEREAS, advanced purified recycled water is an essential element for the western United States economy, which supports the entire nation's economy, and advanced purification of recycled water produces water suitable for augmenting limited potable supplies; and
WHEREAS, in small towns like Midway, North Carolina, African American residents live with the vestiges of Jim Crow segregation and lack of basic services such as sewer systems (Parnell et al. 2004). Residents in the small, rural African American community struggle with sewage overflows while nearby, white affluent communities are developed as major tourism destinations (UNCCR 2006 ); and
WHEREAS, discrimination in zoning and construction has denied low-income communities and communities of color basic infrastructure such as sewers and wastewater (Lichter et al. 2007 ; Troesken 2002 ; WERA 2002; Anderson 2008). And these same isolated rural areas are most likely to lack basic water and wastewater services (Snipp 1996) and access to, and the scale of, water financing is also often inequitable; and
WHEREAS, water distribution systems are generally financed and constructed at a local level, with some federal support, but such funding (primarily in the form of loans and grants for infrastructure construction) has a series of barriers for low- income water systems (discussed in the next section) and has traditionally failed to address the underlying persistence of water problems in low-income communities and communities of color; and
WHEREAS, the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs have provided much- needed support for both drinking water and wastewater utilities, thus assisting in the fundamental protection of public health and the environment, particularly for small to medium-sized communities. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund have in fact been the primary tools for federal investment in water infrastructure; and
WHEREAS, while farmers fight to water their land and environmentalists fight to protect ecosystems, civil rights and social activists are advocating for disadvantaged and minority communities in parts of the nation where low- income minorities have poor quality drinking water. And furthermore, as farmers and ranchers cut back, their employees, who are predominantly Latino, lose jobs.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP and its units will advocate for water infrastructure funding at the federal level which includes Title XVI funding for recycled water and desalination; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP and its units will advocate for SRF funding as it sees that these funds are vitally important, and these programs should be maintained and strengthened for all communities, including communities of color that need this funding; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP and its units will seek opportunities to ensure that as the nation and the western United States deal with the worse drought on record, that the NAACP and its units will seek to ensure that African Americans and people of color are adequately represented, in any and all discussions of solutions of how to deal with the drought, so that minority and economically disadvantaged populations are not unfairly burdened in the pursuit of solutions.