Congress to consider $1.5 billion in grants
for sewer-upgrades

BY KATHERINE RIZZO
Associated Press

WASHINGTON: The lame-duck Congress that will meet in December may authorize $1.5 billion to help communities across the country upgrade old sewer systems.

The measure would allow the federal government to provide grants to municipalities having problems with overflow of sanitary sewer systems or combined sewer systems, in which the same pipes collect both storm water and waste water.

House leaders have agreed to put authorization of the program into an appropriations bill.

Senate leaders have not been enthusiastic about hustling the grant program into law this year. However, Rep. Jim Barcia, D-Mich., author of part of the water quality legislation, said he believes it will be passed and be signed by the president.

The Environmental Protection Agency official in charge of wastewater programs wasn't as certain. However, J. Charles Fox, the agency's assistant administrator for water, said that if the measure doesn't pass this year, the effort won't have been wasted because lawmakers are being made more familiar with sewer pipe problems in the communities they represent.