Senate Passes Bill Requiring Public Notification When Sewage Is Dumped Into City Waters

Source: Environmental Protection Agency via Wikimedia Commons

Last Thursday marks the adoption of a bill that would force plant operators to tell the public if and when municipal sewage is spilled into New York’s bodies of water.

This is great news for Sheepshead Bay and the surrounding areas as this coastal community with five nearby beaches is especially susceptible to sewage spillovers.

The Senate voted in favor of the The Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act. It was part of a larger environmental package of bills called the Earth Day Package.

The measure states that sewage plant operators will have to notify local health departments within four hours of the waste release, as well as issue a public news release letting the public know when raw or partially treated sewage is discharged into New York waters.

It is the hope of environmental groups who worked on the bill that the public would receive water quality notifications through the press similar to the ozone, pollen and severe weather warnings.

Assemblyman Bob Sweeney said the measure will give people a choice to “avoid unnecessary exposure to harmful sewage pollution,” according to a media release.

The federal EPA estimates that between 1.8 million and 3.5 million Americans become ill annually from contact with sewage in recreational waters.

The bill still requires a signature from Governor Andrew Cuomo before becoming a law.

Once the notification system is in place, you can bet Sheepshead Bites will be broadcasting alerts about any such discharges locally.