House Lawmakers Approve Sewage Notification Legislation
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Overwhelmingly Approved Bipartisan LegislationMay 15th, 2008
Garrett Russo, American Rivers, (202) 243-7073
Katherine Baer, American Rivers, (202) 347-7550
Washington, DC — What’s in your water? It’s a question, that if posed to Americans, most wouldn’t be able to answer. In fact, 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 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.
“Americans are now one step closer to finding out just what’s in their water. This bill must come to the House floor immediately, and it must be passed. Clean water isn’t and shouldn’t be a political issue.
Two years ago, when some tainted spinach made its way into our food supply, the entire country was notified almost instantly, and the vegetable disappeared quickly from store shelves. Yet each and every year, 860 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage is spilled into our waters, and currently there’s no federal law that requires the public be notified, placing public health at risk. Something stinks about that, and it’s not just the sewage.
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.”