Atlanta

3 federal lawmakers working to get funding for overhaul of Atlanta water system

ATLANTA — Less than two weeks since water mains broke across the City of Atlanta and put thousands under a boil water advisory, federal lawmakers say they’re working to get federal funding to help repair the city’s aging water system.

Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, along with Rep. Nikema Williams are working to get funding secured for Atlanta to help it pay for what could be billions of dollars in repairs to the city’s sewage and water system.

The money would come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) passed in 2022, according to the lawmakers.

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In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Williams asked for a close partnership between the city and USACE to “address the urgent and chronic water infrastructure challenges that recently resulted in a series of catastrophic water main breaks” in Atlanta.

As part of the request, Williams wrote that the Corps can “construct water infrastructure improvements for the City of Atlanta, including the replacement of aging and failing water mains like those at the heart of this latest crisis,” using funding from the City of Atlanta’s Environmental Infrastructure Authority.

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Echoing the same sentiment, and having co-signed the letter, Georgia’s U.S. Senators said the water main breaks that impacted the city for nearly a week showed the need for funding to address the chronic infrastructure problems and provide the funding for a complete comprehensive review, noting the state of Georgia has received $570 million in federal investments for drinking water and clean water projects from the BIL.

“We request that the Corps provide the necessary funding to help the City of Atlanta complete a comprehensive review of its drinking water infrastructure as a first step towards developing solutions to improve drinking water service and infrastructure reliability. Moreover, because the water main break and subsequent boil water advisories affected several economically disadvantaged communities, we ask the Corps to waive the collection of local fees as authorized by Section 8119 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2022,” the letter from the lawmakers said.

The billion-dollar price tag is not just a talking point. Atlanta officials said they’ll be asking for at least $1 billion from the federal government to make sure the work gets done.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens addressed the water main break and issues shortly after repairs were completed on June 5. During the briefing, he outlined what some of the next steps for the city would be.

“I will be asking the feds for more money, lots more money. I want us to be the example of solving it, all of it, and that’s going to be a number in the b’s, billions. It’s not going to be a small number,” Dickens said.

As previously reported by Channel 2 Action News, Dickens praised the work crews who performed the repairs over days of the water crisis, but also admitted the city should have done a better job handling it.

“While I say that we are frustrated, that we understand, we also know that we are going to go at this proactively to start moving in the right direction, to replace as much of the broken or older infrastructure that we have,” Dickens said.

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