The tens of thousands of petition signatures, emails, letters and calls made by environmental advocates like you helped Riverkeeper reach a milestone in our effort to clean the Hudson River today, as the New York State legislature approved the bipartisan Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act.
The Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act, once signed by the Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make public reporting about unsafe water conditions nearly as routine as severe weather warnings. The law will require public wastewater treatment plants to publicly disclose within four hours of releasing raw or partially-treated sewage. The state will also for the first time report annually on reported sewage discharges.
Over six years, more than 20% of Riverkeeper’s Hudson River samples have failed Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for safe swimming – a failure rate three times the national average for public beaches. (Look up the data at riverkeeper.org/water-quality.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between 1.8 and 3.5 million Americans become ill annually from exposure to pathogens in sewage in recreational waters.
The Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act will give people information that will help them protect their families from water at times that it is likely to be unsafe, and will bring attention to failing sewers that need fixes or upgrades. Many Hudson Valley and New York City combined sewer systems discharge raw sewage to our waterways during rain, and public investment in water infrastructure has been in decline for decades, leaving a funding gap for needed investments nationwide over $250 billion.
Riverkeeper worked with an array of partners to support the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act, including Citizen Campaign for the Environment and clean water advocacy groups throughout New York State, including Alliance for the Great Lakes, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, Clean Ocean Action, Clearwater, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, The Fund for Lake George, Lake George Waterkeeper, Hackensack Riverkeeper, Hudson River Watertrail Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Newtown Creek Alliance, New York City Watertrail Association, New York League of Conservation Voters, New York/New Jersey Baykeeper, Operation Splash, Peconic Baykeeper, The River Project, Scenic Hudson, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Sludge Stoppers Task Force, Surfrider Foundation, S.W.I.M. Coalition, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance.
You can read the press release here.