U.S. Reps. Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republican Tom Reed from New York introduced a bipartisan measure to improve water quality through infrastructure upgrades and conservation.
The two lawmakers introduced the Impaired Waters Improvement Act on Thursday, a bill to benefit both local governments and farmers. The act creates a grant program — at no cost to taxpayers — for municipalities and farmers to find ways to reduce nutrient runoff, which has a significant impact on waterways.
“For decades, the waterways in my district have suffered from nutrient-heavy discharges from Lake Okeechobee and local runoff that negatively impacts the ecosystem as well as the Treasure Coast-Palm Beach economy,” Murphy said in a statement. “If we are to improve the health of our waters we need to have an all-of-the-above approach and find creative ways to address these issues.
“Our bill does just that, providing farmers and ranchers with the means to construct innovative water storage projects. Locally, these water-farming projects can help clean and store water before it reaches the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.”
The Act establishes a grant program to help both communities and the local agriculture industry with meeting Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements, as well as upgrade sewer and wastewater systems and help develop sustainable agriculture runoff practices. Funds to pay for the bill will come from fees from penalties assessed on violations of the Clean Water Act.
“Our farmers, our communities need help to improve runoff practices and community sewer and wastewater systems,” Reed said. “Farmers and communities working hard to meet water quality requirements fairly deserve this help. I’m proud to join with my friend from across the aisle, Rep. Patrick Murphy, on this bill to care for water quality.”