U.S. Rep. Nikki BudzinskiSPRINGFIELD – Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as they unveiled a new funding matrix that aims to bring transparency to the federal, state and local funding investments and opportunities available to address the flooding and sewage crisis in Cahokia Heights. At the request of Congresswoman Budzinski, EPA worked closely with more than 35 stakeholders to compile information about community funding needs, currently available resources as well as developed and completed projects.

“I’m thrilled to join the Environmental Protection Agency as they release a new funding matrix that brings unprecedented transparency to our response efforts in Cahokia Heights,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “For the first time in decades, we have local, state and federal officials working together in a coordinated response to the environmental health and safety crisis in Cahokia Heights. This major step forward would not have been possible without the appointment of a full-time federal coordinator through the EPA. I’m so grateful to Administrator Michael Regan for granting my request for this position and I thank Beth Murphy for the thoughtful and collaborative work to make this funding matrix a reality. These issues won’t be solved overnight, but I look forward to working closely with our incoming coordinator, Betsy Nightingale, to build on this progress as we continue to elevate our response to this crisis.”

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“For far too long, Metro-East residents have endured dangerous sewage flooding during rain storms because of dilapidated water infrastructure in the region. This is a public health crisis that has been decades in the making,” said Senator Durbin. “My colleagues and I have worked alongside EPA to address these serious flooding concerns, as well as spoken directly to community leaders and residents. Today, we are launching a new ‘matrix’ to assist Metro-East communities in tracking federal investments allocated to improve water and flood-prevention infrastructure.”

“The Cahokia Heights community has been saddled with inhumane conditions for decades,” said Senator Duckworth. “My office, along with the offices of my Congressional colleagues, have been working together on a comprehensive approach to bring an end to this suffering. While our work is far from done, this EPA Region 5-created project funding database can help us understand the progress made and what still needs to be done. The cross jurisdictional oversight and information of this matrix will be critical as we continue to work toward a safe, reliable, equitable future for the people of Cahokia Heights and the surrounding areas.”

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“This matrix is one critical tool to address the flooding, wastewater and drinking water issues in the Metro East area,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “While these issues will not be solved overnight, knowing what funding and projects are available to the Metro East area is a crucial step in making progress.”

The funding matrix seeks to collate information on projects related to drinking-water, wastewater and flood-prevention infrastructure funding and projects in the Cahokia Heights, East St. Louis and Metro East area. It also includes information related to flooding and housing issues that don’t fall under EPA’s jurisdiction. Moving forward, the matrix is meant to be a living and breathing resource that shares the current status of federal, state and local funding available to address the environmental health and safety crisis. Stakeholders will be able to update information on a regular basis to maintain transparency with the public.

The information in the matrix will be updated and circulated on a routine basis. EPA collects voluntarily provided details for funding and projects and will continue to rely upon stakeholders to keep the information current. A copy is available to any requestor after they acknowledge disclaimers and rules of engagement. To request access, please email EPA’s Cahokia Heights coordinator, Betsy Nightingale, at nightingale.elizabeth@epa.gov.

EPA will host webinars to answer questions on June 5th from 12:00-1:00 p.m. CT and June 15th from 6:00-7:00 p.m. CT. EPA is also planning an in-person meeting and will be announced at a later date.

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