House Approves Two Bills to Improve Florida Water Quality

The U.S. House of Representatives approved two separate bills to help improve water quality in the state of Florida -- especially in the Keys area.

In the first bill (H.R. 673), the House voted to earmark $213 million in federal funds to help the state improve wastewater treatment and stormwater management systems in the Keys area. Approved 411-7, the legislation authorizes EPA to make funds available on a matching basis for water projects through 2005 in the Keys as well as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It stipulates that at least 25 percent of the funds for any project must originate from non-federal sources. Florida Representatives Peter Deutsch and Clay Shaw sponsored the bill.

In the second bill (H.R. 1106), two other Florida lawmakers -- Karen Thurman and Tillie Fowler -- sponsored legislation for a five-year EPA grant program to promote the development of water conservation programs. Passing 416-5, the bill provides $75 million a year, and local sources are required to provide a 50 percent match to federal funds.

The Bureau of Reclamation operates a similar cost-sharing program for 17 other states. The legislation would extend grant funds to the rest of the nation. Under the bill, projects must show an effective and alternative method of increasing water supplies and must be environmentally sound.

(SOURCE: The Associated Press)

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