WATER QUALITY INVESTMENT ACT OF 2007
* Mr. HARE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a cosponsor of the Water Quality Investment Act and strongly urge Its passage.
* Many communities in my district, such as the city of Monmouth, have severe capacity issues with their wastewater treatment systems. Several of these communities are rural but are experiencing new growth and cannot afford to expand their wastewater systems or update their antiquated and deteriorating facilities. The overflow of sewer systems can cause untreated waste to run into streets, basements, rivers and lakes, posing obvious health, safety and environmental problems.
* Additionally, 772 municipalities across the country, the majority having fewer than 10,000 people, have combined sewer systems. These systems partially separate sewage and stormwater runoff and are extremely vulnerable to sewer overflows during periods of peak rainfall. The EPA estimates that each year, overflows from combined sewer systems discharge about 850 billion gallons of wastewater and storm water containing untreated waste, toxic debris, and other pollutants into the environment.
* It is imperative that we help localities improve their sewer infrastructure for the health and safety of their residents and to meet their obligations under the Clean Water Act.
* The Water Quality Investment Act would authorize $1.8 billion in federal grants over five years to municipalities for sewer overflow control and improved infrastructure. This new funding is a good first step toward addressing the EPA's estimated sewer overflow control costs of over $150 billion.
* This legislation is supported by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, which services the majority of Americans, and the Water Infrastructure Network, a broad-based coalition of environmental, conservation, municipal, public health, engineering, construction, and energy groups.
* I again urge my colleagues to vote for this bipartisan legislation. Sewer system overflows are a public health risk with the biggest threat occurring in smaller communities that cannot finance the modernization of their systems. We are obligated to help these communities protect their citizens, which is why we must pass this bill.