Urge EPA Administrator to Provide Plan, Timeline for Requiring Treatment Facilities to Notify Public When Sewage Is Dumped into the Great Lakes
WASHINGTON –-(ENEWSPF)–March 1, 2016. U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to swiftly implement Senator Kirk’s new public notice requirements for sewage dumping into the Great Lakes. The Kirk-authored provision included in the FY16 omnibus funding bill requires municipal treatment works to notify the public when they dump inadequately treated sewage into the Great Lakes.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the senators requested a detailed plan and timeline for implementing the new notice requirements, which were signed into law in December.
“Too often, the public is not even informed the sewage dumping occurred and is directly exposed to the contaminated water,” the senators wrote. “With the enacted legislation, we can protect our families and keep this issue in the spotlight, working toward a clean and sustainable future for the Great Lakes, the crown jewel of the Midwest.”
“The Alliance for the Great Lakes appreciates the work of Senators Kirk, Durbin and Portman to ensure that Great Lakes residents and visitors are given the most up to date information about sewage being dumped into the Great Lakes,” said Molly M. Flanagan, Vice President of Policy at the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “The public has a right to know immediately when these overflow events occur. US EPA should outline a plan that makes the Great Lakes region a leader in protecting public health by requiring that information about sewage overflow events be released immediately to the public.”
An estimated 24 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater are dumped into the Great Lakes each year, polluting the source of drinking water for more than 30 million Americans. Unfortunately, only the largest incidents like a recent multi-billion gallon dump in Canada, are widely reported. Senator Kirk’s new requirements were designed to keep Illinois families safe from toxins and to keep the Great Lakes clean for generations to come.
The senators are members of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force, of which Senator Kirk is co-chair.
The text of the letter is below. A signed copy is available here.
March 1, 2016
The Honorable Gina McCarthy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator McCarthy:
We urge you to swiftly implement public notice requirements for municipal treatment works that dump sewage into the Great Lakes as mandated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, Section 425 of P.L. 114-113.
An estimated 24 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater, containing harmful pathogens, such as E. coli, are dumped into the Great Lakes every year, contaminating the source of recreation and drinking water for more than 30 million Americans. Too often, the public is not even informed the sewage dumping occurred and is directly exposed to the contaminated water. We must ensure the public is informed immediately and every time that sewage is dumped into our water, putting the public health of our citizens at risk. With the enacted legislation, we can protect our families and keep this issue in the spotlight, working toward a clean and sustainable future for the Great Lakes, the crown jewel of the Midwest.
Please provide us, in detail, the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan and timeline for the implementation of public notice requirements for treatment works dumping sewage into the Great Lakes. We appreciate your attention and look forward to working with you on this important issue.
Mark Kirk, U.S. Senator
Dick Durbin, U.S. Senator
Rob Portman, U.S. Senator