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Higgins Hails Passage of Water Quality Investment Act

Mar 12, 2009
Press Release

Washington, DC- Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) today voted for, and the House passed, H.R. 1262, Water Quality Investment Act. This legislation would make key investments to improve water quality and better ensure safe, clean water for all Americans while potentially creating hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next five years. Higgins, a lead advocate in Congress of cleaning and restoring the Great Lakes and member of the House Great Lakes Task Force, applauded sections of the bill that would prevent future contamination from sewer overflows and other pollutants.

“Lake Erie is one of Western New York’s most valuable natural resources, and the toxic sediment that is the legacy of our industrial past is a continuing source of harm to the overall ecological health of the Lake,” said Higgins.  “The increased funding levels in this bill create a roadmap that will ensure that the polluted areas of concern that have been identified around Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes are cleaned up.”

The other major sections of the bill include the reauthorization of the vital Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which would authorize $13.8 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund over the next five years. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provides low-interest loans to local communities for construction of wastewater treatment facilities and other water pollution abatement projects.  Since it was created in 1987, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund has been the primary source of federal funding for wastewater infrastructure projects.  

The bill also addresses the problem of sewer overflows; a problem experienced in Western New York, authorizing $1.8 billion for sewer overflow control grants over the next five years. These funds are needed because sewer overflows are a growing problem in the United States today – creating a significant public health hazard.  Many of our municipalities utilize sewer systems constructed as far back as the 19th century.  This antiquated infrastructure is deteriorating, and as a result, state and local governments are often unable to stop raw sewage and untreated waste from flowing into streets, basements, rivers and lakes. These funds would aid cities like Buffalo that find building or improving sewer infrastructure financially impossible without help from the federal government.