May 01, 2009

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Invest $1.8 Billion in Water Projects

Water Quality Investment Act would authorize grants to modernize aging sewer systems

Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) introduced legislation April 30 to authorize $1.8 billion in federal grants to help modernize antiquated sewer systems that frequently overflow directly into rivers, lakes, streams and coastal waters during wet weather events, threatening water quality and public health and undermining local economies. Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are also co-sponsors of the bill.

“We need to make a serious commitment to restoring our sewer systems, which are a critical part of the nation's infrastructure,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “This investment is needed to ensure our waters are safe for drinking, swimming, fishing and other uses.”

“Our legislation holds the federal government responsible for paying its fair share for the nation's pressing water and wastewater infrastructure needs,” Sen. Voinovich said. “We cannot expect cities to spend millions of dollars for water infrastructure upgrades without help from the federal government. We have a ticking time bomb ready to blow up if we don't act now.”

The Water Quality Investment Act would authorize a $1.8 billion, five-year federal grant program in the Clean Water Act. The program would provide funds directly to local governments in the first two years of the program. Over the next three years, funding would be allocated to states based on need to address problems of overflowing sewer systems. States will then distribute the funding to local governments.