The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Katherine Baer, American Rivers, (202) 347-7550 x3053
Angela Dicianno, American Rivers, (202) 243-7077

Congress Takes Big Step Forward to Protect Clean Water, Public Health

Sewage "Right-to-Know" included in Clean Water State Revolving Fund


Every year, more than 860 billion gallons of raw and partially
treated sewage foul America's waters and threaten public health, but
most people have no idea that these spills occur in their local rivers
and streams. Today, lawmakers in the House took an important step
towards changing that. The Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure included sewage right-to-know notification provisions in
the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) reauthorization (H.R. 1262)
that passed the Committee today. The Clean Water SRF helps pay for
critical stormwater, wastewater, and drinking water needs across the
country. The sewage right-to-know provisions require public
notification when a sewer spill has the potential to affect public
health. These safeguards were originally introduced as separate
legislation in the 110th Congress by Representatives Timothy Bishop
(D-NY) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ).

"What we don't know can hurt us," said Katherine Baer, senior
director of the clean water program for American Rivers, "Taking a
swim, or going fishing or boating, should never be a guessing game.
Sewage right-to-know is about protecting public health and shining a
light on a rather odious problem so that we can build support for
lasting clean water solutions."

Since its inception in 1987, the Clean Water SRF has provided $63
billion to over 20,000 projects, serving almost 95 million people.
However, funding for this successful national program has not kept pace
with the estimated $390 billion backlog in clean water infrastructure
projects. The Committee-passed bill authorizes $13.8 billion over five
years and will help close the gap, though the program must still be
updated to fund sustainable and cost-effective 21st century

American Rivers looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to address these issues as the legislation moves forward.

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.