Introduced on March 17, 2009, S. 624 – Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009 commits the United States to ensuring safe, affordable, and sustainable water and sanitation to 100 million people by 2015. According to Water Advocates:
More than 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water and 2.6 billion people lack even basic sanitary facilities. Diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation remain humanity’s most serious public health threat, causing 80% of the sicknesses in developing countries and annually killing between 2 and 5 million people, mainly young children. Lack of water and sanitation undermines the sustainability of other critical needs, including education, economic development, nutrition, environmental health and gender equality.
Although 100 million is only a small percentage of the worldwide need, the Water for the World Act of 2009 is the U.S. response to the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation. This bipartisan legislation would create an “Office of Water” at USAID headed by a “Director for Safe Water and Sanitation”. This department would be responsible for implementing the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005. From the text of the Paul Simon World Water Act of 2009:
(6) The effects of climate change are expected to produce severe consequences for water availability and resource management in the future, with 2,800,000,000 people in more than 48 countries expected to face severe and chronic water shortages by 2025.
The World Water Act of 2009 would “increase the capacity of the Department of State to address international issues regarding safe water, sanitation, integrated river basin management, and other international water programs.” It recognizes that clean water is essential for peace and security around the world. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.