Bipartisan legislation includes provisions to expedite replacement of Cape Cod Canal Bridges, increase funding for clean drinking water in small and disadvantaged communities, offer new grants for wastewater infrastructure, and improve coastal resilience
Washington (May 6, 2020) – Massachusetts U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Elizabeth Warren today commended the inclusion of several key provisions benefitting Massachusetts in two comprehensive water resources and water infrastructure bills, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, that passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today.
“During the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that we provide relief and support to communities throughout Massachusetts,” said Senators Markey and Warren. “We are proud that these two bills include many of our key provisions, which will provide new and more robust resources to help localities recover and grow their economies, while also bracing for the impacts of climate change. We look forward to final passage of this bill and it being signed into law.”
The Senators’ provisions incorporated into the two bills include:
- Cape Cod Canal Bridges - Directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to provide priority funding for and expedite the replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges, which connect the nearly 250,000 residents of the Cape and Islands to the rest of Massachusetts, but are over eighty years old and structurally deficient.
- Clean Drinking Water – Increasing the annual funding for the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities Program—which provides funding to help public water systems in underserved, small, and disadvantaged communities meet Safe Drinking Water Act requirements—from $60 million to $100 million. The Senators’ provisions also allow this funding to go toward purchasing filters, providing accurate information about health threats, and contracting with nonprofit organizations with the technical expertise necessary to help underserved communities improve drinking water quality for residents.
- Boston Climate Resiliency – Directing the USACE to study climate resiliency in the Boston metro area, which is a necessary first step toward developing the coastal storm protection and storm risk management measures that Boston will need to address the effects of climate change moving forward.
- Coastal Erosion – Increasing the annual funding cap for the USACE’s Storm and Hurricane Restoration and Impact Minimization Program from $37.5 million to $46 million by 2030, which will allow coastal communities across Massachusetts to implement more robust shoreline erosion and beach nourishment projects.
- Towns of Newbury and Newburyport – Authorizing a feasibility study for a comprehensive erosion control project in Newbury and Newburyport, which is a necessary first step toward developing a regional approach to managing sediment, controlling coastal erosion, encouraging maritime development, and protecting human life and property from the seasonal storms that have degraded this vital coastline.
- Wastewater Infrastructure Grant Program – Authorizing a new $50 million per year grant program to fund wastewater infrastructure projects, which will help communities across Massachusetts that are experiencing difficulty meeting the requirements of the Clean Water Act with their existing infrastructure and seek more generous federal assistance than is currently available to update their wastewater systems.
- Muddy River – Directing the USACE to work with the City of Boston and Town of Brookline to develop a plan for reauthorizing the Muddy River Environmental Restoration Project, as well as limiting these municipalities’ responsibility to pay for any costs above initial estimates in Phase II of the Muddy River Flood Damage Reduction Project.
- Combined Sewer Overflows – Expanding an existing municipal sewer overflow grant program to allow federal funding for notification systems that will inform communities, like those along the Merrimack River, when sewage overflows into their drinking water, which is a critical safety measure while experts study the best way to stop sewage overflows from happening in the first place.
- Hoosic River – Directing the USACE to work with the City of North Adams and the Hoosic River Revival Organization to develop a plan for authorizing a flood risk management project along the Hoosic River.