Durbin-Corker Water for the World Act Passes Senate

Legislation to Improve Water Access for 100 Million Globally

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – The Water for the World Act, introduced by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), passed the Senate today and was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.


The Water for the World Act places water in the forefront of America’s development priorities, seeking to reach 100 million people around the world with sustainable access to clean water and sanitation over the next six years.


“Access to safe drinking water is a right that everyone in the world ought to enjoy but too few are able to realize,” Durbin said. “Water access is no longer simply a global health and development issue; it is a mortal and long-term threat that is increasingly becoming a national security issue. The United States needs to do much more to ensure that global water access is protected and expanded.”


“The needs around the world are tremendous, but our foreign aid dollars are limited. We need to make every single penny count by better focusing and coordinating our efforts,” said Corker. “A lack of clean water leads to the deaths of 1.8 million people each year – 90 percent of them children. It stifles economic growth, keeps women and girls from going to work and school, and has contributed to political unrest in Sudan and elsewhere. Experts tell us every $1 invested in safe drinking water and sanitation produces an $8 return in costs. I’m a fiscal conservative and want to see each of our foreign aid dollars go as far as possible, and I believe water is one of the wisest places we can invest.”


One billion people around the world lack access to clean, safe water and more than two billion people lack access to basic sanitation. Most of these people live on less than $2 a day. Rapid industrialization and population and economic growth will continue to put pressure on global water supplies, particularly in developing nations. Such water issues can no longer been seen as isolated problems, but must instead be viewed as factors contributing to regional tensions, global health, child and maternal mortality, and economic growth.


The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 made access to safe water and sanitation for developing countries a specific policy objective of the United States Foreign Assistance Program. The Act was named after the late Paul Simon, who more than a decade ago, wrote the book, Tapped Out, which warned of the world’s looming clean water crisis.


The Act has already made a difference in the world: last year alone the U.S. helped provide nearly 2 million people with first time access to an improved source of drinking water and more than 1.5 million people to improved sanitation.


To build on the progress achieved through the Water for the Poor Act, Senators Durbin and Corker introduced the Water for the World Act. To achieve the goal of reaching 100 million people with sustainable access to clean water and sanitation the bill:


  • Targets underdeveloped countries with focused initiatives to improve access to clean water and sanitation;

  • Fosters global cooperation on research and technology development, including regional partnerships among experts on clean water;

  • Provides technical assistance and capacity-building to develop expertise within countries facing water and sanitation challenges;

  • Provides seed money for the deployment of clean water and sanitation technologies; and

  • Strengthen the human infrastructure at USAID and the State Department to implement clean water and sanitation programs effectively and to ensure that water receives priority attention in our foreign policy efforts.


The Water for the World Act represents a robust U.S. contribution to the Millennium Development Goal on water, which is to reduce by 50 percent the proportion of the world population without safe water and sanitation by six years.


The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Bond (R-MO), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Burr (R-NC), Burris (D-IL) Cantwell (D-WA) Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Collins (R-ME), Dodd (D-CT), Dorgan (D-ND), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand, (D-NY), Isakson (R-GA), Johanns (R-NE), Johnson (D-SD), Kaufman (D-DE), Kirk (D-MA), Landrieu (D-LA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Lieberman (I-CT), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Roberts (R-KS), Sanders (I-VT), Shaheen (D-NH), Snowe (R-ME), Specter (D-PA) and Whitehouse (D-RI).


A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Donald Payne (D-NJ).