Washington, DC — Every year, more than 860 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage lands in America’s waters, and most people have no idea. Today, lawmakers in the House took an important step towards changing that. The Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation that would require the public be notified in the event of a sewage spill.
The Sewage Overflow Community Right to Know Act (H.R. 2452) was introduced by Congressman Timothy Bishop (D-NY) and Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) almost 1 year ago. It has wide support on both sides of the aisle with 55 cosponsors, as well as the support of over 150 groups and individuals including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), representing sewage treatment plant operators across the country.
Below is a statement from Rebecca Wodder, President of American Rivers in response to today’s events:
“Clean water isn’t and shouldn’t be a political issue. The dirty little secret is that each and every year hundreds of billions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage finds its way into our waters. Taken as a whole, it’s enough to cover a state the size of Pennsylvania ankle deep. It’s not only disgusting, but it’s downright dangerous. Even conservative estimates show we spend billions of dollars each year on health care associated with the problems of contaminated water.
What we don’t know can hurt us, and taking a swim should never be a guessing game. Passing this law isn’t about assigning blame, but rather shining a light on a rather odious problem to build support for solutions. Much of our nation’s water infrastructure was built generations ago. It’s overburdened and overwhelmed. The Right to Know Bill is an important first step to addressing these problems.
Once we know just what’s in our water, we can then take the steps required to get it out. We as a nation must invest in the next generation of infrastructure to ensure our communities, and water resources will be protected from the challenges of global warming.
Both Congressman Bishop and Congressman LoBiondo should be thanked for introducing this common sense piece of legislation, and there’s no better way to thank them than by quickly passing this bill, and having the President sign it into law.”
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.