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Lobbyists Oppose Water Infrastructure Cuts

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush's proposed $3.5 billion homeland security budget for 2003 will sharply reduce water infrastructure maintenance, among other municipal services, in many US cities, a lobbying group said.

Carol Kocheisen, principal legislative counsel for the National League of Cities (NLC), which represents 18,000 cities that serve 225 million Americans, said President Bush wants to eliminate the more than $349 million earmarked by Congress for various US water projects.

Kocheisen said US presidents have tried to deny Congress funds during each proposed budget and have always failed. During last year's budget, more than 150 projects could have been affected by this possible cut, according to Kocheisen.

"We all recognize the importance of homeland security and a strong economy for America," said NLC President Karen Anderson, who is also the mayor of Minnetonka, MN. "However, we should not pursue those goals at the expense of programs for cities and towns that make our homeland safe, healthy and strong. We cannot pursue security and tax cuts at the expense of safety and quality of life."

A debate about how much money the federal government should provide to renovate the nation's aging water and wastewater infrastructure - and what form the funding should take - has been waged long and hard by different sectors of the industry. The issue is still being discussed in Congress and will be the subject of upcoming hearings.

- Ted Montuori, WaterTechOnline Assistant Managing Editor


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