Belmont Water Treatment Plant
3:05 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, hello. Good afternoon. Good afternoon. (Applause.) Please have a seat.
Well, it is good to be back in Pennsylvania and to be with so many incredible leaders: members of our administration, members of Congress, the workers of AFSCME Local 33 and 47, and, of course, Pennsylvania’s own Joe Biden. (Applause.) Yes.
So, before I begin, if I might just refer to the governor’s concern about my attendance today. (Laughter.) You worry a little too much. (Laughter.) But as a proud 49ers fan, congratulations to everyone here and the Eagles, and good luck at the Super Bowl. (Applause.)
So, Philadelphia, the President and I are here to address a critical issue that affects every person in America: clean drinking water.
Few resources are more basic and more essential. Without reliable access to clean water, people can simply not be healthy, communities cannot grow, and our nation cannot prosper.
No matter where they live, every person in America should have a right to clean water. And yet, today, across our nation, far too many Americans do not.
Today, across the West, historic droughts have forced millions to endure water shortages, wildfires, and billions of dollars in economic damages.
Today, millions of Americans live in places where even moderate flooding can overwhelm sewage systems and contaminate drinking water.
We have heard too many stories of people who, after storms, have pools of sewage water under their floorboards.
And as a result, in particular in communities across the South, we have seen a rise in infections like hookworm and diseases like Zika.
And across our nation, up to 10 million homes and thousands of schools and childcare facilities receive their water through lead pipes.
To be clear: Lead is a poison. Drinking water contaminated with lead causes serious health issues, especially for our children. It stunts growth, it causes damage to the brain, and it affects a child’s ability to learn.
Last week, for example, I met a bright young leader. He’s nine years old. His name is Aiden. Aiden lives in Milwaukee with his mother, Deanna, and his brother, Jaidyn. Today, Aiden is healthy and he is full of energy, but that was not always the case.
Because, you see, when Aiden was two years old, he was hospitalized for lead poisoning twice for drinking water out of the tap at the kitchen sink.
Deanna told me that before Aiden’s hospitalization, he experienced severe mood swings. One minute, he was happy. The next minute, he was sobbing. Deanna told me it was terrifying.
Well, I think we all agree no child in America should ever have to undure [sic] — and endure that kind of experience. And no parent in America should ever have that experience.
And so, together with the leaders here today and with leaders across our nation, we have made access to clean water a priority of our administration’s national agenda. (Applause.)
And with — and with the largest investment in America’s water infrastructure in history, we are going to see this through and get this work done.
Specifically, we invested billions of dollars in flood and drought resilience for communities across our nation, in water treatment plans like this one, in removing every lead pipe in America.
And just last week, at the White House, I convened union leaders, and utility providers, and state and local elected officials to strategize about what we will do to implement these investments, to make sure that we move fast as possible to get this work done.
And all of this progress is possible because of the vision, the purpose, and the incredible leadership of our President, Joe Biden.
For two years — (applause) — for the two years that he has been President and many years before that, Joe Biden has fought to make sure that children, like young Aiden, have the opportunity to grow up and to be healthy and to live up to their God-given potential.
So, we have a lot to be thankful for in our President.
And now, before he speaks, it is my honor to introduce a leader who knows firsthand the impact of our hard work: the mother of an incredible daughter, a mother whose advocacy and bravery has helped children around our country, families around our country be safe and healthy.
Please welcome Jana Curtis. (Applause.)