UPDATE with NHRegister story:
HARTFORD — The state’s environmental watchdog would have to post online notification of sewage spills that contaminate Long Island Sound, close its beaches and affect other bodies of water under a bill that the state Senate unanimously approved this week.
Environmental group applauds Senate and calls on House to follow suit
(Hamden, CT) – Citizens Campaign for the Environment is applauding the CT Senate for passing the Sewage Right to Know Act (SB 88) yesterday, which would require the state to notify the public whenever sewage overflows contaminate local waterways. The bill must now pass the House of Representatives and be signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to become law, CCE announced.
“The days of swimming in sewage must come to an end in Connecticut. The public needs and deserves the right to know when there is raw sewage in their local waterways, so they can take precautions to protect themselves and their families from unnecessary and harmful exposure,” said CCE Executive Director Adrienne Esposito. “CCE applauds bill cosponsors Senators Martin Looney and John Fonfara for their leadership and all the members that voted to pass this groundbreaking legislation for public health.”
Raw sewage overflows contaminate ground and surface waters, flood our streets, and can back up into homes or other buildings. Members of the public can often be seen swimming, boating, fishing, or playing in areas that have recently been contaminated with sewage.
“Passage of this legislation will help ensure that a trip to our favorite swimming or fishing spot is not unknowingly a trip to the emergency room,” continued Esposito.
The public has demonstrated overwhelming support for passage of this important legislation. Over 1800 letters have been sent to elected officials and over 3850 signatures have been collected in support of the public’s right to know when sewage overflows contaminate Connecticut’s waterways and communities.
The bill was developed in cooperation with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and could serve as a national model for other states to follow. The law would require the agency to design a map of Connecticut detailing areas of the state that are plagued by chronic sewage overflows. The map would be made available to the public via the DEEP website, along with updated information about unanticipated sewage overflows as they are reported.
“We are delighted with DEEP and their attention to detail on this important issue,” said Louis Burch, Connecticut Program Coordinator for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “This is a well-crafted and common sense piece of legislation, and we are urging the CT House to pass this critical public health measure as soon as possible.”
Sewage contaminates waterways with disease-causing microorganisms, human waste, pesticides, and a long list of toxic pollutants. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, between 1.8 and 3.5 million Americans become ill annually from contact with recreational waters contaminated by sewage. Potential health impacts from pathogens found in raw sewage include short-term gastrointestinal problems, infections and fevers; and long-term chronic conditions such as liver, kidney, and even heart failure.
Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org