Trahan Secures $100 Million Authorization for MA-3 Sewage System Upgrades
Washington, June 9, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03) voted to advance the bipartisan 2022 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA 2022), which authorizes critical funding to undertake water development projects in communities across the nation. Following testimony from Trahan before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the legislation includes a $100 million federal funding authorization to help address combined sewage overflows (CSOs) in Lowell, Lawrence, Methuen, Haverhill, and Fitchburg.
“With hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage flowing into rivers across our district each year, the need for robust federal investments in upgrading our sewage systems couldn’t be more obvious. That’s why I requested $100 million in federal water development funding specifically for our district,” said Congresswoman Trahan. “Yesterday’s vote to authorize that investment gets us one step closer to having critical federal funds flow to Lowell, Lawrence, Methuen, Haverhill, and Fitchburg. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and look forward to getting this funding across the finish line so we can put it to use in our communities.”
Reauthorized by Congress every two years, the Water Resources Development Act ensures federal investments in local water infrastructure and development projects reflect the needs of communities. During consideration of WRDA 2022, Trahan successfully requested that $20 million each be authorized for water infrastructure projects targeting CSOs in Lowell, Lawrence, Methuen, Haverhill, and Fitchburg. The updated version of the legislation, including these investments in the Third District’s water infrastructure, was voted out of committee unanimously and passed under fast-tracked consideration yesterday by the full House of Representatives, underscoring the extent of the bill’s bipartisan support.
The importance of these local investments cannot be underscored enough. In Lowell alone, the city has invested more than $150 million in combined sewage overflow control projects that have resulted in a 60% reduction in the annual volume of discharges from its combined sewer system. Yet, even with these upgrades, the sewage system has been forced to discharge an average of 300 to 450 million gallons of overflow in recent years.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to fix combined sewer overflows, a serious pollution problem that has been plaguing the Merrimack River for decades,” said Merrimack River Watershed Council Executive Director Matthew Thorne. “With the help of state and federal funding, the Merrimack has transformed over the past 50 years to become one the state's most important recreational rivers, as well as a source of drinking water for 600,000 people and a vital habitat for a growing population of bald eagles, sturgeon, and hundreds of other species. But some of the hardest and most expensive sewer overflow work has yet to be done, and it's vital that local communities receive federal aid in order to accomplish it. At MRWC, we greatly appreciate Rep. Trahan's hard work to make the Merrimack cleaner and healthier.”
Working with local officials and organizations, Trahan has advocated repeatedly for this kind of historic federal investment since she first took office in 2019 when the federal allocation for the EPA’s Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant Program sat at $0. Most recently, she supported passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocated $55 billion to upgrade community water systems and replace lead service lines across the nation. Of that funding, Massachusetts has begun receiving its portion of at least $1.1 billion headed to the state over the next half-decade to improve community water infrastructure.
WRDA 2022 now moves to the Senate. Once law, the community authorizations will be eligible for funding through the appropriations process. Additional information about the bipartisan legislation can be accessed HERE.