By The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Four members of Congress from Massachusetts and New Hampshire are asking for more federal funds to help clean up the Merrimack River.

U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton and Lori Trahan of Massachusetts and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire sent a letter this week to colleagues leading negotiations on money for a federal grant program designed to decrease the amount of sewage released into the river.

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“In 2018, 800 million gallons of sewage and untreated stormwater were released into the river, which runs more than 100 miles from central New Hampshire, through northeastern Massachusetts, and then out to sea,” the Democratic lawmakers letter says. “Combined sewer overflow discharges in Manchester and Lowell accounted for more than half of the volume.”

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The Clean Water State Revolving Fund has helped make improvements to the region’s wastewater treatment plants and piping systems, they wrote, but the work needed to protect the Merrimack requires a bigger investment.

Grants to communities needing help “should be funded at the $500 million level,” the lawmakers wrote. “This would allow cities with combined sewer systems, like those along the Merrimack River, to finally make the major infrastructure changes needed to prevent CSO releases.”

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)