LAWMAKERS HAIL HOUSE APPROVAL OF SEWER FUNDS
Congressmen Barney Frank and James McGovern applauded the inclusion of funds for sewer upgrades in three Bristol County communities in an Environmental Protection Agency funding bill approved yesterday by the U.S. House. The 2008 Interior/Environment Appropriations bill includes, at their request, a total of $500,000 in local sewer funding assistance, which is expected to be divided so as to provide $250,000 for Fall River; $200,000 for New Bedford; and $50,000 for the Town of Acushnet. The bill must pass the Senate and be signed by the President before it becomes law.
Frank and McGovern noted that, while the amounts in the annual funding bill for the Southeastern Massachusetts sewer projects are unfortunately lower than they have been in past years, primarily as a result of the huge federal budget deficit that is large a result of Republican fiscal policies, the Congressmen thought it was important to continue fighting for the funds in order to preserve the principle of local sewer aid in future years. The members of the Southeastern Massachusetts Congressional delegation have secured over $33 million in direct sewer infrastructure assistance (through annual funding bills and other grants) for New Bedford and Fall River since 1995.
"I am pleased that in a tough budget year, we are continuing to make progress on funding these vital sewer upgrade projects, and I will be working with Jim McGovern to resist President Bush's threat to veto the bill" Frank said. "It is particularly important that the bill also includes funding for Acushnet, because the difficulty of financing sewer upgrades is a problem that affects towns as well as cities."
"I'm pleased that we were able to maintain federal funding for sewer upgrades for the Southcoast in this year's House Interior/Environment Appropriations bill," Rep. McGovern said. "Barney Frank and I will continue to work with our Senate colleagues to help the ratepayers of Southeastern Massachusetts."
Fall River and New Bedford are, pursuant to federal court requirements, undertaking significant improvements in their sewer systems to reduce the incidence of combined sewer overflows (CSOs), which lead to the transmission of untreated waste into coastal waters. Each project costs well in excess of $100 million. Acushnet is seeking assistance in reducing the financial impact on ratepayers of its Phase I Area sewer project, which has a total cost of $6.5 million.