|Clean Water Momentum on the Hill
|"I'm proud to join with my friend from across the aisle, Rep. Patrick Murphy, on this bill to care for water quality."
–Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY-23).
Four Things You Need to Know About the Impaired Waters Improvement Act
As the leaves begin to turn vibrant colors throughout the watershed, Members of Congress will be returning to marbled hallways of Capitol Hill to finish up the 113th Congressional Session. For CBF, during the last few months of 2014, gaining support for critical pieces of legislation becomes more important than ever.
A top federal priority for the Chesapeake Bay is the Impaired Waters Improvement Act (H.R. 4739), a bill that can benefit both the region and the rest of the country. H.R. 4739 establishes a grant program that will provide funding to help communities and farmers implement projects that will reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment. Below are four things that you need to know about the Impaired Waters Improvement Act:
- Democrats and republicans are working together to save the Bay
The Impaired Waters Improvement Act was written and introduced by Republican Representative Tom Reed from the 23rd District of New York (within the Bay watershed) and Democratic Representative Patrick Murphy from the 18th District of Florida. The bill is supported by two other Bay watershed representatives, Republican Congressman Chris Gibson from the 19th District of New York and Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Norton from the District of Columbia. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Federal Affairs Office in D.C. is working with Congress to gain further bipartisan support for this bill.
- It provides tools and resources for small communities and farmers to reduce pollution
Local communities and farmers will truly benefit from the passage of the Impaired Waters Improvement Act. Instead of seeing new taxes to cover loans, small communities will get grants for improving their publicly owned treatment works or a publicly owned stormwater management practices. This includes many communities within the Bay watershed that have a federal blueprint for nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment. The same goes for family farmers. Privately owned farms in an area that has a local cleanup plan for nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment would be able to receive funding for those pollution reduction projects.
- Polluters pay into a specific fund
This bill sounds like it will create a great program, right? But, does the money come from the local taxpayers? No! The Impaired Waters Improvement Act creates an "Impaired Waters Trust Fund" within the U.S. Treasury Department. Violators of the Clean Water Act would be fined an additional 5 percent, which will be deposited directly into the newly created trust fund. The money would then be given to local communities and farmers, through grants.
- You can help!
Your voice in support of clean water is critical to this effort! Your Member of Congress wants and needs to hear from you. Sending a letter to your elected official in support of the Impaired Waters Improvement Act will help bring attention to this bipartisan funding resource for local communities and farmers. Keep your letters brief, specific and polite; and, remember to ask for a reply. You can find your Congressional Representative online by entering your zip code here.