Bipartisan Bill Would Increase Federal Funds for Communities to Address Water Pollution
U.S. Representatives Brian Mast (FL-18) and Angie Craig (MN-02)’s Local Water Protection Act today passed the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously. The bipartisan effort to reduce harmful water pollution increases grant funding for state and local governments to decrease water pollutants, including addressing toxic agricultural runoff, septic to sewer conversions, legacy pollutants, impacts from dams, effects of channelization of waterbodies and other forms of pollution.
“Our efforts to fix the water quality issues surrounding Lake O need to start at the source by preventing pollution to begin with. That’s why our bipartisan bill will increase federal support to prevent toxic agricultural runoff, assist with septic to sewer conversions and address other forms of pollutants,” Rep. Mast said. “Working together, we can tackle this from all angles and make a real difference for our waterways.”
Specifically, the bill will reauthorize the EPA’s successful Section 319 Grant Program, which addresses nonpoint source pollution through state-run nonpoint pollution management programs and related technical assistance. The bill increases the funding level from the $70 million specifically authorized in 1991 to $200 million in Fiscal Years 2020 through 2024. Under Section 319, states, territories and tribes receive grant money that supports a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects.
“Clean water is vital to the daily health of Minnesotans and the beauty of our state, from the water we drink to the lakes we swim in,” Rep. Craig said. “My first bipartisan bill in Congress will renew and increase the critical funding that communities need to keep Minnesota’s waters clean and safe for generations to come.”
The Section 319 Grant Program has funded hundreds of programs in Florida alone since its creation in 1987. A full list can be found here. The next step is for the bill to be scheduled for a vote before the full House of Representatives. Video of the hearing is available here.