Sewage Right To Know Passes In New York

Summer is here and its time to boat, swim and yes, paddleboard, in our rivers and lakes. But to keep safe and healthy and with hundreds of billions of raw and partially treated sewage still getting into our waters every year, you really need to know if and when there’s been a sewage spill.

As I’ve written before, there is no consistent national standard requiring sewage system operators to alert the public about spills, putting public health at-risk. States vary in whether and how the public should be notified when there’s a spill, making it hard to keep your family safe if you don’t know what’s in your water.

South Carolina passed legislation earlier this year that American Rivers supported that requires public notification of sewage spills over 5,000 gallons and sewage systems with chronic problems must evaluate their systems and make plans to minimize sewage pollution.

And now – add New York to the list. Our colleagues at Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Riverkeeper led the successful effort to pass state legislation that requires public notification for sewage spills. The legislation is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Until we can ensure that there are consistent requirements for sewage spill notification for all Americans, we should support cities and states that are working to understand and notify the public when the waters are safe for swimming, splashing and playing. We must also fight current efforts in Congress to slash funding and rollback national safeguards for clean water that help keep all of us safe and healthy.

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