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House Approves Water Quality Bills

Updated:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted Thursday to make $213 million in federal funds available through 2005 to help the state of Florida improve wastewater treatment and stormwater management systems in the Florida Keys.

The legislation, approved 411-7, authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to make funds available on a matching basis for water projects in the Keys and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. At least 25 percent of the funds for any project must come from non-federal sources.

The bill approves $32 million in 2001, $31 million in 2002 and $50 million in each of the next three years.

``An American treasure is at risk and the Florida Keys water quality improvement act will help save North America's only living coral reef,'' said Rep. Peter Deutsch, D-Fla., who sponsored the bill with Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fla.

Two other Florida lawmakers, Democrat Karen Thurman and Republican Tillie Fowler, sponsored separate legislation for a five-year grant program within EPA to promote the development of water conservation programs.

The bill, which passed 416-5, provides $75 million a year, with local partners required to provide a 50 percent match to federal contributions.

The Bureau of Reclamation runs a similar cost-sharing program for 17 Western states. The legislation would extend grant funds to the rest of the nation.

Under the bill, projects must show an effective and alternative method of increasing water supplies and must be environmentally sound.

``Without alternative water sources many states may find themselves hurting for water for drinking, agriculture, industry and commercial uses,'' Thurman said.

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The Florida Keys bill number is H.R. 673.

The water conservation bill is H.R. 1106.
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