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Water Infrastructure

WHEREAS, having access to clean and safe drinking water is a pivotal and needed resource in all communities, however systemic racism has constrained this fundamental need for Black people; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP reaffirms resolutions on environmental and climate justice or on water issues passed in 1974, 1976, 1977, 1981 1983, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022; and

WHEREAS, Black communities for centuries faced racism in water issues such as Allensworth, California, an agricultural town founded in 1908, based their livelihood on access to safe, drinking water, and because a company gave their water wells to a neighboring white town, it took almost a century for this town to rebuild; and

WHEREAS, cities like Flint, Michigan, Benton Harbor, Michigan, Jackson, Mississippi, Baltimore, Maryland, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania face long-term issues regarding their water systems due to a lack of investment in water infrastructure, deteriorating pipes, and increased natural disasters due to climate change; and

WHEREAS, without safe, drinking water and access to adequate plumbing, and sanitation systems, communities cannot function at its highest level; and

WHEREAS, during water crises in places like Jackson, Mississippi businesses lose revenue and have to close their doors, and hospitals have to make tough decisions regarding whether they can perform needed procedures; and

WHEREAS, many Black and other historically excluded communities have normalized using bottled water instead of drinking tap water because of decades of disinvestment; and

WHEREAS, Black people in the United States are twice as likely to lack access to adequate plumbing and sanitation as exhibited by Lowndes County, Alabama; and

WHEREAS, states that have not prioritized Black communities create a perpetual issue of under-resourcing Black communities and those states withhold federal funding that should flow to the communities that need it most; and

WHEREAS, the Biden Administration has mandated that states prioritize communities that have faced disinvestment through Justice40 and has allocated millions of dollars to water infrastructure through funding like the Inflation Reduction Act; and

WHEREAS, Black communities continue to face state legislative water takeover attempts and destructive governors who aim to control of their water systems and any resources that Black and other disadvantaged communities receive from federal investments; and

WHEREAS, Black communities continue to have disproportionately more safe drinking water act violations because of a lack of funding to fix water issues within their communities; and

WHEREAS, infant mortality rates and other health issues impact Black communities at high rates because of wastewater and drinking water system issues; and

WHEREAS, while Congress recognizes the need for better water infrastructure, many environmental statues place harm on residents and vulnerable communities and subject local communities to penalties without resources and technical assistance to fix the issues; and

WHEREAS, information regarding water quality and testing is inaccessible in many communities which leaves the most impacted individuals without a cost-effective way to understand a basic need within their home or residence; and

WHEREAS, the Biden Administration recently created the first Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights along with the new White House Office of Environmental Justice that should center the needs of Black communities who have faced years of disinvestment in their water systems, including any processes that can help remedy past harm; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP has filed lawsuits, civil rights administrative complaints, and testified before Congress demanding that safe and clean water and water systems are prioritized for Black communities and for other frontline communities.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the NAACP demands for federal, state, and local governments to prioritize safe, drinking water and infrastructure for Black communities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the NAACP demands better federal and state data and metrics to understand water issues in Black communities and other frontline communities as well as funding allocations by states to Black communities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the NAACP demands federal agencies to use their roles to protect the most vulnerable communities, not just for compliance, including ensuring that processes for remedies to water issues do not cause undue burdens on disadvantaged communities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the NAACP demands more investment in water testing and infrastructure, affordable sewage systems, and cost-accessible solutions for communities who suffer from unsafe drinking water, wastewater issues, and sanitation; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, the NAACP demands a community-based approach in considering economic opportunities in rebuilding and creating new water systems.