WASHINGTON -- March 3 -- Members of the U.S. House of Representatives today introduced bipartisan legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal allowing partially treated human sewage to be routinely dumped into the nation's waterways. The authors of the Save Our Waters From Sewage Act are Congressmen Bart Stupak (D-MI), E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (R-FL), Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).
NRDC's Nancy Stoner made the following remarks at today's press conference:
"Congress faces a clear choice: Will our government continue to require effective treatment for sewage to remove pollutants that kill fish, poison drinking water sources, close beaches, destroy coral reefs, contaminate shellfish, and make people sick? Or will we reverse course by allowing routine sewage dumping whenever it rains?
"The Save our Waters from Sewage Act provides the right answer for the American people. This bill would prevent sewage dumping from becoming the standard method of disposal for industrial, commercial and human waste across the country.
"In effect, this legislation would force EPA to dump its reckless sewage dumping policy.
"We therefore wish to thank the sponsors of this bill, including Congressmen Bart Stupak of Michigan, Clay Shaw, Jr. of Florida, Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois and Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey.
"Their legislation affirms that sewage must be treated to protect our drinking water sources from contamination; to protect the public from getting sick from waterborne diseases, such as hepatitis and dysentery; to protect our nation's $45 billion commercial fishing and shellfish industry; to keep our beaches open and to make it safe to swim in our coastal waters; to ensure enough oxygen in the water for fish to breathe; to protect our waterways from toxic algal blooms; and to remove metals and toxins that cause cancer and other life threatening illnesses.
"Most important, this legislation would ensure that longstanding Clean Water Act safeguards are maintained.
"It does not require anyone to do the impossible, just to provide full treatment whenever it is feasible to do so by investing in solutions that work, such as cleaning out the sewers, reducing infiltration and inflow, upgrading capacity to provide treatment for the expanded population base, and rehabilitating and replacing aging sewer lines.
"We also want to take this opportunity to express our support for substantially increasing Clean Water funding to help communities to repair their aging sewer systems. We urge Congress to fully fund America's Clean Water fund (the Clean Water State Revolving Fund).
"Finally, we urge Congress to create a long-term funding source, a Clean Water Trust Fund, which polls show is supported by more than 80 percent of the American public. "On behalf of all Americans who prefer clean and healthy waters, thank you."
For more information about EPA's sewage dumping proposal, click here.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 1 million members and e-activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.