Columbia, SC -- Every year, more than 860 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage foul America’s waters and threaten public health, but most people have no idea that these spills occur in their local rivers and streams. Last month, thanks to the advocacy of American Rivers and our partners, the South Carolina General Assembly took an important first step towards changing that when the House passed bill H3603, "Emergency Notification of Spills." This bill requires dischargers to notify the public within 12 hours of any pollution spill greater than 1000 gallons.
This legislation will also help solve the problems outlined by American Rivers earlier this year when it listed the Saluda River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2009. High phosphorous levels from nearby sewage treatment plants cause algal blooms that threaten recreation and property values, and fish kills.
“Summer is coming, and millions of Americans will be soon be spending time on their local rivers and streams. But what we don’t know can hurt us,” said Gerrit Jobsis, southeast regional director for American Rivers, “Taking a swim, or going fishing or boating, should never be a guessing game. Sewage notification is about protecting public health and shining a light on a rather odious problem so that we can build support for lasting clean water solutions.”
“We applaud the House for recognizing the need to protect clean water and public health,” added Jobsis. “The Senate should act swiftly to pass the bill when the session reconvenes, to ensure that future summer fun isn’t ruined by sewage and sickness.”
The sewage legislation now heads to the South Carolina Senate for its consideration when the session reconvenes in January 2010.
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.