Blogs > Boat Blog > It’s the Law: Sewage Discharges Must be Reported to Public

It’s the Law: Sewage Discharges Must be Reported to Public


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Great news! As of this month, you must be notified when harmful sewage is discharged to the Hudson River and waterways throughout New York.

Thanks to tremendous public support, New Yorkers now have a Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law. Riverkeeper’s water quality testing data, and the coalition we helped build in support of this law, were instrumental to its passage last year.

As we return to our boats and beaches with the warmer weather, this law will enable us to avoid contact with sewage-contaminated water. Looking into the future, the insights we’ll gain into the state of our wastewater infrastructure will help us know where to invest to improve water quality—for our health and the health of our ecosystem.

Starting immediately, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will post all unpermitted sewage discharges from publicly owned treatment plants and sewer systems at a new Sewage Discharge Reports web page.

The DEC is currently writing regulations that will specify how dischargers should notify the public directly when raw sewage, unpermitted partially-treated sewage and combined sewer overflows of sewage and stormwater are discharged into our waterways. We expect those regulations to be in place by the end of this year.

1. Tell the DEC you want strong regulations. Riverkeeper will play the role of watchdog, ensuring that the rules the DEC writes are protective of public health and the environment. Check your inbox and the Action Center regularly to learn how you can help.

2. Report discharges. If you see a sewage release in your community, report it to the DEC by emailing [email protected] or calling 518-402-8233. Then report it to Riverkeeper by emailing [email protected] or calling 1-800-21-RIVER ext. 231.

3. Learn about your community’s sewer system. If you live in or visit a community with a combined sewer overflow (CSO) system you can now go online to find the location of each outfall and other relevant information. CSO communities in the Hudson River estuary include New York City and the New Jersey side of New York Harbor, Yonkers, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, City of Hudson, Catskill, Waterford, and the Albany Pool (Albany, Cohoes, Green Island, Rensselaer, Troy, Watervliet).

4. Make a donation in support of Riverkeeper’s water quality work. The materials alone for a water quality sample costs $15. Riverkeeper, with the most extensive water quality testing program in the Hudson River watershed, samples 74 sites in the Hudson River estuary, and dozens more in six tributaries, with the help of citizen scientists. Please make a donation today in support of public notification today, and cleaner water tomorrow.

Thank you for your support.

Tracy Brown
Riverkeeper Water Quality Advocate

P.S. You can learn more about the Sewage Pollution Right to Know law by reading our press statement.

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