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Congressman Denny Heck

Representing the 10th District of Washington

Cities Could Get Stormwater Help Under House-Passed Bill

Jul 16, 2018
In The News

The federal government may soon look at how it helps cities and towns dealing with stormwater pollution after the House passed a bill that would launch a task force at the EPA.

The House bill, H.R. 3906, would set up a task force at the Environmental Protection Agency to look at how the government funds projects that rely on “innovative stormwater control infrastructure,” such as wetlands, flood plains, or other natural systems that trap and filter excess rainwater. The agency would have to take a comprehensive look at how it helps fund projects like these.

The legislation passed the House on July 16 on a voice vote.

But a similar piece of legislation in the Senate, S. 1695, has been stalled in committee for nearly a year, making its future uncertain. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), the lawmaker sponsoring the Senate bill, is going to keep pushing for action in the Senate, his spokesman Ned Adriance told Bloomberg Environment.

The House’s bill initially would have created a new EPA grant program to help communities upgrade their stormwater drainage systems, but that provision was stripped out before the legislation hit the House floor.

“Let’s be clear: We have to do more. We have to do a lot more,” Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), the bill’s primary sponsor, said.

He called stormwater “the single largest source of water pollution in America” and said the days of “easy-fix solutions for point-source pollution” are gone.

Stormwater runoff is a major source of water pollution, especially in cities with lots of impermeable surfaces. Many cities and towns are spending huge amounts of money to comply with court orders that force them to upgrade their water infrastructure to avoid further violations.