Bipartisan Bill Will 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 House of Representatives. 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.
“Florida has felt the social and economic consequences of environmental disaster firsthand. The water issues stemming from Lake Okeechobee exemplify why it’s absolutely critical that we work together to strengthen conservation programs, promote public health, defend our environment and protect our waterways,” Rep. Mast said. “This bipartisan bill will increase federal support to address pollution from agricultural runoff, assist with septic to sewer conversions and prevent other forms of pollutants. It goes to show how working together we can 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.
“Local communities are the experts on the most innovative and effective ways to address pollution caused by snowmelt and storm runoff in their water sources,” Rep. Craig said. “I’m honored to have passed my first bipartisan bill out of the House today to support local government efforts to keep our water 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, including McCarty Ranch in St. Lucie County, Willoughby Creek in Martin County and the C-43 Reservoir in Hendry County. A full list can be found here.