On Wednesday, by a vote of 367-58, the House passed a clean water bill designed to help communities, mostly in the Northeast and Great Lakes region repair and replace deteriorating municipal sewage systems. Despite White House objections that the cost was too high, the bill will spend $1.7 billion over 5 years in federal grants to help states and municipalities modernize wastewater systems and control sewage overflows that contaminate rivers and streams.

“No American should have to walk outside after a storm to see sewage in the streets,” said Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA). According to a 2004 EPA report, 850 billion gallons of wastewater and storm water are released every year as combined storm overflow. There are also 23,000-75,000 incidents each year of sanitary sewer overflow. The incidents release 3-10 billion gallons of human waste into rivers, creeks, and streams each year. All told 40 million people in 772 communities are affected by this problem each year. 

This administration’s argument that a price tag of a little more than 300 million dollars per year for five years is too much money, when they are giving billions of taxpayer dollars to private contractors to rebuild Iraq, is complete bunk. Do they want American citizens to believe that rebuilding Iraq is more important to them than keeping human waste out of our rivers and streams? I hope they realize that this is the message their sending, and it isn’t a good one. 

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