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Lawmakers recognized for funding historic water act
Water Advocates recently announced the recipients of the 2008 Water Advocate Awards for outstanding contributions to safe drinking water and sanitation in the developing world. This year's award recipients are Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Bennett (R-Utah) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Representatives David Obey (D-Wis.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), John Culberson (R-Texas) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.). They were selected for their roles in dramatically increasing federal funding for safe drinking water and sanitation projects in the developing world.
"We are pleased that these senators and representatives have recognized drinking water and sanitation as one of the world's most serious public health issues and have shown such leadership in funding the implementation of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act," David Douglas, president of Water Advocates, said. "Congressional concern—matched with the expanding work of American citizens and organizations on behalf of safe water and sanitation worldwide—will improve the health and well-being of countless lives."
Over the course of the last year, the award recipients worked with other members of Congress to provide $300 million in federal funding to implement the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act. This act, signed into law in December 2005, made addressing the global safe drinking water and sanitation challenge a priority of U.S. foreign policy.
Patricia Derge Simon, advocate for clean water worldwide and the widow of Simon, noted, "As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Paul Simon realized the significance of water problems for developing countries. Passage of this appropriation will be a major step in providing sustainable safe water and sanitation and preventing waterborne illnesses, which too often cut short the future of children who are most vulnerable."
The work of the award recipients has resulted in a significant increase in funding for safe, affordable and sustainable supplies of drinking water and sanitation in the poorest regions of the developing world. Strong implementing language in both the text of the bill and the accompanying joint explanatory statement will help ensure that the funding is spent as Congress intends.
The Water Advocate award ceremony was held in Washington, D.C., on the evening of Feb. 7, 2008, in the Capitol Building. Past Water Advocate award recipients include Senator Bill Frist and Representative Earl Blumenauer.