Oregon Dems plan bill on drinking water, wastewater data

By Miranda Willson | 05/01/2024 06:25 AM EDT

The legislation aims to help close the nation’s “water access gap.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) plans to release legislation Wednesday to address water infrastructure shortfalls. Mariam Zuhaib/AP

Senate Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon will introduce legislation Wednesday to identify American households that lack running water and plumbing systems, a key step toward expanding access.

The “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Access Data Collection Act of 2024” would establish an interagency working group focused on ensuring all Americans have access to drinking water as well as plumbing or wastewater services.

Approximately 2 million Americans do not have sinks, bathtubs or working toilets in their homes, according to data from DigDeep, a nonprofit advocacy organization.


The working group would survey households to establish an accurate federal estimate of what the lawmakers described as a growing “water access gap,” according to a summary of the bill shared with E&E News. The group would be chaired by the administrator of EPA, with other potential members being senior officials from the Interior Department, Agriculture Department, Census Bureau, and Department of Housing and Urban Development.