Build Back Better for Us: Sylvia Orduño's Story
Sylvia Orduño is a resident of Detroit where she is involved in frontline community groups, including the People’s Water Board Coalition, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Water Is Life Alliance. In 2020, she was appointed to the first Michigan Advisory Council for Environmental Justice, which was created to ensure perspectives from impacted communities are included in state decision making; and to the EPA’s Great Lakes Advisory Board. Sylvia also serves as a Region 5 member of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council where she serves as the current Chair.
As the COVID-19 Pandemic has exacerbated water shut offs in the City of Detroit, Sylvia’s current focus is on extending the state moratorium on water shut offs and enacting statewide water affordability programs for drinking water, sanitation and public health. Further, she believes it’s important for more people to understand the interconnectedness of climate change and water systems, and that the impacts of climate change exacerbate water insecurity and drinking water quality issues.
After four years of environmental rollbacks from the Trump Administration, including attacks on the Clean Water Act, Sylvia is hopeful that President Biden’s American Jobs Plan that will make transformative investments in drinking water infrastructure, create good jobs, replacing lead service lines, increasing access to safe, affordable water and sanitation, and ensuring environmental justice priorities. For Sylvia, putting affected residents at the forefront of decision-making is critical.
She supports the American Jobs Plan because it will reinvest in protecting our water sources, assisting people impacted by water shutoffs, improving drinking water infrastructure, and cleaning up unsafe air, soil, and water for healthy communities.
“We must understand that addressing the nation’s infrastructure needs depends upon understanding the implications of climate change, from financial costs and social designs of delivering water, to capturing wastewater and stormwater in sustainable ways. We must understand the immense cost of continuing to do nothing. Members of Congress must put our water concerns at the forefront and that means supporting the American Jobs Plan.”