In 2011, I introduced House Joint Memorial 27, calling on Congress to Renew Oregon's Water.
While HJM 27 was introduced late in the session and didn't make it out of committee, it's part of an important national effort to Renew America's Water through increased federal investment in state loan funds to help communities across the country repair and upgrade their aging public drinking water and wastewater systems.
You can view a copy of the Memorial here. Reading through the "whereas" clauses in the beginning of the Memorial will give you a pretty good idea of why we need action from Congress on this issue.
It's important to realize that these federal funds are not "handouts," but rather support low-interest loan funds administered at the state level. These loans allow smaller communities to make needed repairs to their water systems without having to go out on the market for financing that would likely be far more costly to ratepayers. As the loans are paid back, it frees up money for additional loans to be made to other communities.
View my single-pager summary on HJM 27.
Food & Water Watch, a national non-profit with an office in Portland, has done considerable work on this issue and others affecting the availability of clean, affordable drinking water. You can learn more on their website here, or, if you'd like to become more involved with this issue you can contact Julia DeGraw at Food & Water Watch at (503) 241-6556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read Food & Water Watch's fact sheet here, and read a letter to Senator Merkley that I have signed onto here.
I expect to remain engaged on this issue, and will keep you in the loop on future legislative action.