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Trahan Calls for Additional Program Funds to Clean Up Merrimack River



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Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-MA) along with Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA), Annie Kuster (D-NH), and Chris Pappas (D-NH) sent a letter on Feb. 13 to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee of Appropriations requesting additional funding be allocated for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant Program (section 221) for fiscal year 2021.

The Appropriations request letter seeks $500 million for the program to award federal grants to states and municipalities for the planning, design, and construction for combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, or stormwater management. Combined sewer overflows are a product of combined sewer systems, which are in use by more than 800 communities across the nation. These systems are particularly common in the Northeast and Midwest, where they trigger harmful releases of raw sewage when precipitation exceeds manageable levels.

“Every American has a right to clean, safe drinking water. For those who depend on the Merrimack River, that right is threatened by the 800 million gallons of sewage and untreated stormwater that ran into the river last year alone because of outdated sewer infrastructure,” said Congresswoman Trahan. “The federal government has an obligation to help cities like Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill make necessary sewer upgrades to prevent this sort of pollution. I am proud to stand alongside Representatives Moulton, Kuster, and Pappas to push for this funding to help get it done.”

“There’s a saying in the Marines, that I’ll paraphrase here: sewage flows downhill. In this case, it is flowing downstream into the Merrimack from Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) said. “Everyone deserves clean water. We need to stop the flow of sewage into the Merrimack, and until we do that, we should at least be able to warn people when it happens.”

“The Merrimack River supplies water to hundreds of thousands of people in Northern New England, and it is imperative that we work to ensure Granite Staters and all who depend on this resource have access to safe, clean drinking water,” said McLane Kuster (D-NH). “These federal funds are vital to safeguarding and improving the quality of water in the Merrimack River. I urge my colleagues to grant our request and help protect access to sanitary drinking water for every community that utilizes the Merrimack River.”

“It is incomprehensible that in the year 2020 untreated sewage still flows into America’s waterways,” said Congressman Pappas. “We can’t effectively address these sewage overflows without adequate federal support. These funds are essential to modernize our infrastructure and protect our rivers and drinking water. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure the Merrimack River, and all our nation’s waterways, will thrive for generations to come.”

“However, the scale of need to protect the Merrimack and the communities in its watershed requires a major investment of federal grant support.  Indeed, according to the latest EPA Clean Water Needs Survey, nearly $50 billion is needed. In our states alone, nearly $1.6 billion is required,” the Members Wrote.  

The full text of the letter can be found below, and an image of the signed letter can be found HERE: