House Passes Clean Water Bill
WASHINGTON, DC, March 8, 2007 (ENS) - The House of
Representatives Wednesday approved legislation that would authorize
a $1.5 billion program for cities to repair and upgrade aging and
outdated sewage systems that often overflow during wet weather
The Water Quality Investment Act of 2007 (H.R. 569) had broad
bipartisan support, passing the House with a vote of 367 to 58.
H.R. 569 provides $1.5 billion over five years for EPA sewer
overflow control grants to states and municipalities. Combined sewer
systems, which carry both stormwater and sanitary flows, and
separate sanitary sewer systems can overflow with untreated waste
during heavy rainfall or snow melts.
Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Congressman Jim Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who sponsored the
bill, says cities and towns across the nation are faced with making
massive repairs to infrastructure that is often more than 100 years
"Duluth is a prime example of a city that would benefit from this
legislation," said Oberstar. "They have a sewer system that is more
than a century old. It gets flooded every time there is a heavy rain
and raw sewage to flow into Lake Superior."
"We have spent more money repairing and upgrading water and sewer
treatment plants in Iraq than we have spent in the United States,"
said Oberstar. "Itís time to invest in a legacy of clean water for
our children," Oberstar said.
"Combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows create a
huge pollution problem in America. This bill will help provide
cleaner water in our communities, and will require EPA to distribute
grant money to those communities most in need of assistance," said
Congressman John Mica, of Florida, Republican leader on the
Today, the House of Representatives considered a companion clean
water bill from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The Water Quality Financing Act of 2007 (H.R. 720) will provide $14
billion in federal loan guarantees to help cities and towns finance
water and sewer improvements. The measure would reauthorize the
Clean Water State Revolving Fund to provide low interest loans to
government entities for clean water and nonpoint source pollution
Leaders from groups representing the nationís municipal,
engineering, contracting, labor, environmental, and conservation
organizations today held a press briefing sponsored by the Water
Infrastructure Network, WIN, in support of the legislation.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the passage of the Clean
Water Act, providing an ideal opportunity for a federal recommitment
to the nationís waters, the proponents said.
Federal dollars in the form of loans and grants are the only way
America can address clean water infrastructure funding gap estimated
by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Government
Accountability Office, and WIN at between $300 and $500 billion.
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