February 03, 2021

Moulton, Trahan, Kuster, Pappas Request Stronger Investments in Merrimack River Clean-Up

Washington, D.C. – On Monday, Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06) along with Representatives Lori Trahan (MA-03), Annie Kuster (NH-02), and Chris Pappas (NH-01) authored a letter requesting additional federal funding to support clean-up efforts along the Merrimack River. The letter was sent to House Appropriators leading negotiations on funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant program, also known as “Section 221.”

 “In 2018, 800 million gallons of sewage and untreated stormwater were released into the river, which runs more than 100 miles from central New Hampshire, through northeastern Massachusetts, and then out to sea,” the lawmakers wrote. “Combined sewer overflow discharges in Manchester and Lowell accounted for more than half of the volume. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund has been a useful tool to make improvements to the region’s wastewater infrastructure. However, the scale of need to protect the Merrimack and the communities in its watershed requires a major investment of federal grant support.”

 For the third year in a row, the representatives wrote to the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee requesting that additional funds be allocated to combat the issue of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) that, according to the Merrimack River Watershed Council, release an average of 550 million gallons of wastewater into the Merrimack River each year.

 “Again, the Section 221 grants should be funded at the $500 million level,” the lawmakers continued. “This would allow cities with combined sewer systems, like those along the Merrimack River, to finally make the major infrastructure changes needed to prevent CSO releases.”

Last September, the lawmakers also submitted public comments requesting changes to the EPA’s proposed formula that, if enacted, would provide funding to prevent CSOs to states partially based on population rather than per capita needs for the funding. The formula drafted under the previous administration would have hurt states like Massachusetts and New Hampshire that have higher CSO funding needs than other states despite having smaller populations. The rulemaking process for that formula has since been placed under review by the Biden administration.

 A digital copy of the letter sent on Monday can be accessed by clicking here.