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Source: WKBW Buffalo

Water infrastructure proposal would keep Great Lakes clean

Upgrades needed to wastewater treatment plants

Posted: April 22, 2015
Originally Published: April 21, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Congressman Brian Higgins is headed to Washington on a mission. On Wednesday he’s presenting Congress with new legislation aimed at improving water infrastructure.

The Great Lakes Nutrient Removal Assistance Act would improve the technology of publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants. The act would give the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) $500 million for the upgrades.

In return the EPA has to agree to work with the Great Lakes National Program Office. Together they’d decide on the best ways to remove nutrients from the water.

In outlining the legislation, Higgins said New York will be responsible for no more than 55 percent of the costs. He also said nutrient pollution like last year’s algae bloom in Ohio is the biggest concern.

“Algae blooms caused excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen in the Great Lakes, which caused half-a-million people living in the Great Lakes of Toledo, Ohio to lose access to clean drinking water,” said Higgins.

Organizations like Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and Citizens Campaign for the Environment are supporting Higgins’ push.

According to the EPA the Great Lakes supplies 95 percent of the country’s fresh water. Research from the Brookings Institute also notes the lakes support 1.5 million jobs.

If this legislation passes and funding is collected Higgins says the upgrades and projects can start right away.

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