The National Drinking Water Alliance held a Congressional educational briefing on September 12, 2017, in the U.S. Capitol on "Issues in Drinking Water". Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) co-sponsored the briefing. Attendees included representatives from more than 50 organizations and congressional staffers from both sides of the aisle.
The briefing kicked off with a surprise for the crowd of well over 100:
Steph Curry, of the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, gave a vibrant shout-out for water and welcoming message by video, which you can watch here.
The briefing featured three distinguished speakers who highlighted the importance of drinking water for health and the need for sturdy infrastructure for tap water:
William H. Dietz, chair of the Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at George Washington University, focused his remarks on the prevalence of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the negative health impacts of the calories and added sugars in these drinks, emphasizing the importance of water as a substitute beverage;
Vice Admiral Manson Brown of the U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.) brought home the importance of water for citizen readiness. Excess weight disqualifies nearly one-third of young Americans from joining the military—and how many other physically demanding jobs? In a closing remark, Vice Admiral Brown said we should have the same concern for children’s access to quality water as we do for our military by targeting investment in improved access to safe drinking water in schools and communities.
Tom Neltner of the Environmental Defense Fund commented that we take access to safe drinking water for granted and pointed out the many who play a role in delivering it: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), utilities, USDA and Housing and Urban Development to name a few. Congress has a role to empower and fund them. He also reviewed six recent EPA recommendations for improved tap water safety. Neltner concluded by focusing on lead exposure in tap water and reviewed recommendations toward the goal of eliminating lead exposure in tap water, especially for young children who are most vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead.
The briefing topic stimulated a lively Q&A session around themes of equity, the importance of providing quality water access in the early years and the environmental impact of bottled beverages.
For a copy of the materials distributed at the briefing, please email DWAlliance@ucanr.edu.