BRUNSWICK — A recent Maine Sunday Telegram article exposed the many problems associated with the aging Portland sewer system. Shockingly, the sewer system dumps hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated sewage into Casco Bay annually. This untreated mix of household sewage, street runoff, chemicals, medical and industrial waste, and assorted byproducts is pouring into the Atlantic Ocean and our own Casco Bay. Under the current repair plans, this will continue for decades to come!

The bottom-line reason for this calamity is, of course, The Bottom Line. The cost to Portland taxpayers and Water District rate payers for a new system for the next century has to be spread out for decades. The infrastructure problem is big, and the potential environmental impact is huge, spreading far beyond our city and state boundaries.

Doesn’t it seem logical that this project should be included in the enormous national infrastructure program working its way through Congress right now? There is finally some legislation with bipartisan support in Washington, but why isn’t this 1st District project top of the list?

I have already written to House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump, explaining the desperate need and asking for their assistance to avoid the potential environmental and economic disaster we risk with each gallon of pollution flowing into Portland Harbor. I encourage other Mainers to do the same.

Where is Portland’s voice in Congress?

Chellie Pingree, endorsed and funded by numerous environmental groups, has remained curiously quiet on the topic of sewage in Casco Bay. Maybe she couldn’t see it from the private jet that once took her from Washington to Maine. She has plenty to say about international issues and global warming, and she is quick to criticize any word or action of President Trump and the Republicans in Congress – but does she do anything for our congressional district?

What about the shoreline of her district? From East End Beach in Portland, Willard Beach in South Portland, Crescent Beach State Park and Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth, to Scarborough Beach, Ferry Beach, Pine Point Beach and Higgins Beach in Scarborough, and south to Old Orchard Beach, and east to Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick, to Popham Beach, Sewall Beach and Head Beach in Phippsburg: Take a swim in Maine’s waters and you run the risk of sucking in some of Portland’s discharge.

Untreated sewage contains E. coli and salmonella, which are significant health hazards. These toxins threaten our food chain from lobsters and clams to fish, mussels and oysters. Destroy our seafood industry and watch our tourism industry disappear as well.

Portland has been struggling to fix the problem for 20 years and they are only halfway there. The current, locally-funded plan would help reduce the stormwater problem by a mere 10 percent.

Piecemeal repairs over the next 20 years are not acceptable solutions while the health and well-being of Maine people and the state’s economy are at risk. Allowing such a massive problem to continue should be unacceptable to every man, woman and child who cares about the world we live in.

This is unacceptable to me. I believe we must be better stewards of our natural resources than what the current local plan offers, which is why the project needs a national profile and a more immediate solution.

To avoid a true public health crisis completely and forever, Portland needs financial help from the federal government. Our member of Congress, in a district representing every beach on the Maine coast south of Belfast, has done nothing to help the city of Portland.

Her priorities as a member of the House Appropriations Committee need to focus on the real needs of our district. For example, she sent taxpayer money to a private yacht company in Rockland so they could remodel a lounge. She also allocated federal funds to refurbish the runway in Owls Head where she used to arrive by charter jet. But she’s accomplished nothing to help mitigate the environmental disaster happening right now in Portland Harbor.

Maine needs help cleaning up our water, and America needs help cleaning out The Swamp that is Washington. The ruling-class of entrenched politicians, who put a higher priority on yacht club lounges and private jet runways than on untreated waste pouring into Portland Harbor, needs to be replaced.

That’s why I am running for Congress. I will go to Washington and help clean up the fecal matter there and in our own Portland Harbor.