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Clean water legislation faces rough seas in First State

Delaware Public Media

State Rep. Michael Mulrooney is struggling to advance his legislation creating a Clean Water Trust Fund out of committee.

Under Mulrooney’s bill, improvements to water infrastructure would be paid for by taxing individuals $40-to-$80 a year -- and companies $45 a year.

Mulrooney said committee members have concerns about the tax, the structure of the board and why big state polluters aren’t shouldering the cost themselves.

“The idea that big corporations are going to pay for it, I think that ship’s already sailed," he said. "You know most of them are gone, they’re not even in the state anymore or they’re out of business or they’ve been merged several thousand times. You know so, we have to start somewhere.”

The Pike Creek Democrat said there’s been water quality problems in his district as well as other areas across the state.

“Like I said, Sussex County - there’s a big issue down there now," he said. "It’s a big issue in my area, Dover Air Force Base. It's just not a county issue, it’s a statewide issue. It’s a serious issue.”

Gov. John Carney is among those with concerns about adding the surcharge on individual taxpayers.

The legislation could raise up $20 million each year to speed up infrastructure improvement efforts and to clean up contaminated water sources across the state.

Carney did include $6 million in one-time revenue in his recommended budget for drinking water improvements. But a spokesman said the governor is not favor of Mulrooney’s legislation.

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