WASHINGTON — Federal environmental officials are pressing Ohio's communities to upgrade their sewer systems. Those communities in turn have to ask homeowners and businesses to pay more in fees -- dramatically more in many cases, and at a time when people can least afford it.

This makes no sense, Ohio's two U.S. senators said in a telephone news conference in which they announced a proposal for relief.

George Voinovich, a Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said they want to create a $1.8 billion federal grant over five years to help communities across the country pay for sewer upgrades. The program would provide 75 percent of the money for upgrades, with communities giving the other 25 percent.

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