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November 18, 2022

Chairs Thompson, Maloney Request GAO Conduct Review of the Federal Government’s Water Sector Efforts

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Carolyn B. Malone​y (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to the Comptroller General requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study to evaluate efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to identify and assist water and wastewater utilities that are vulnerable to shutdown from natural and other disasters, such as terrorist attacks and chemical and industrial accidents. This request is part of the Committees’ ongoing investigation into the Jackson, Mississippi water crisis, which was declared a federal emergency by President Biden this summer after torrential rain left residents without reliable access to safe drinking water for weeks.

“It is important that the EPA and DHS make progress on their water sector efforts so that all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards,” the Chairs wrote.

The Chairs requested information on how EPA and DHS are identifying and prioritizing water and wastewater utilities to ensure that they are meeting their goals of providing clean and safe water and resilient communities, how the agencies are identifying and prioritizing utilities to receive assistance from their funding programs, and how the agencies are incorporating equity into these programs.

“The Jackson water crisis was a disaster waiting to happen, and it will not be resolved unless we address the confluence of climate change and generational disinvestment in majority-Black cities,” the Chairs also wrote.

Link to letter

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Press Contact

Adam Comis (Homeland Security): 202-225-9978

Nelly Decker (Oversight and Reform): 202-226-5181