Action Alert From Clean Water Network
Contact Congress and Put an End
to Raw Sewage in Our Waters!
EPA has STILL not released proposed
regulations that would require sewer
operators to monitor and report raw sewage
discharges and warn the
public not to swim in sewage-contaminated waters.
As the swimming season moves forward, Americans are faced with
the dilemma of swimming in raw
sewage in far too many beaches. As the temperature
heats up children playing in
playgrounds and in their neighborhoods are still exposed
to raw sewage discharges. A nineteenth century
problem continues to exist
in the year 2002 because EPA refuses to
release regulations that would
stop raw sewage discharges.
Because EPA has not responsed
to pleas to release the Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) regulations, we are asking
members of Congress to contact
EPA Administrator Whitman directly and ask her
to release the SSO regulations this summer.
Please go to the CWN website at www.cwn.org
and click on the Clean Water
Action center on the left-hand sidebar
and send a letter directly from our web site to your members of Congress, asking
them to support release
of the monitoring, reporting, and public notification
provisions of the sanitary sewer overflow rule.
Below is also an op-ed that appeared
in the Los Angeles Times on the 4th
of July for your information.
July 4, 2002
Commentary Sharing the Beach With
Pollution With sewage rules stifled, a
dip can be sickening.
DAVID BECKMAN and NANCY
David Beckman and Nancy Stoner are
senior attorneys at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Vacation season is now in full swing,
with families across the country
flocking to their favorite travel destinations.
For many Americans, that means packing swim trunks, piling into
the car and heading straight for
the water. Summer is all about the sun, the surf,
the sand and, unfortunately, the sewage.
These days, pollution from clogged
or broken sewer systems is too often
an unwelcome visitor in our recreational
When sewer systems are not properly
maintained or they get overloaded,untreated
wastewater flows from our toilets into waterways instead of the treatment plants.
The federal Environmental Protection
Agency estimates that sewage spills occur
about 40,000 times a year. Sewage pollution causes fish kills and shellfish contamination and
last year accounted for more than
2,200 beach closings and advisories nationwide,
according to the Natural Resources
residents are all too familiar with sewage
pollution. Los Angeles,
with its 6,500 miles of sewers--nearly half of which are at least 50 years old--reported
682 sewage spills last year.
As a result, the city has found itself in federal
litigation with local environmental
organizations such as the Santa Monica BayKeeper
and homeowners who suffer not only from the spills but
from continuing odors. To its credit, the EPA also has
joined the fray to fight the sewage problem in Los
Sewage in the water can do more than
disrupt the fishing or spoil a day
at the beach. Every year millions of Americans
get sick from swimming in rivers, lakes and
coastal waters contaminated with raw sewage. The most common illness is gastroenteritis, which
can cause fever, vomiting and
diarrhea. People exposed to pathogens in sewage-contaminated
water also can contract respiratory
illnesses, dysentery and hepatitis. The health risk
is greater for children and
people with weakened immune systems.
Although swimming-related illnesses
usually are not severe or life-
threatening, they are inconvenient and unpleasant
at best and often result
in lost work time, as well as ruined vacations.
So what's being done to address
this widespread problem?
In January 2001, the federal government
announced regulations to
minimize sewer spills into waterways and
require sewer operators to
notify the public when they happen. The EPA estimates
the cost of
implementing the regulations at just $1.92
annually per U.S.
cost pales in comparison with billions of dollars in
revenue generated by water-based tourism. After all,
beaches are the
destination. When you consider the economic benefit
of water-based tourism, investing in monitoring
sewage spills and notifying
the public clearly pays off.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration
will not let the EPA implement the new rules.
The administration refuses to require sewer system monitoring or to make sewer operators
notify local officials and
citizens when sewage contamination threatens
With the summer beach season in full
swing, it's time for the administration to
reassess its position. A crackdown on sewage contamination not only would make for
happier summer vacations across
the country but also would keep related water-based
economies strong. This kind of win-win outcome would benefit everyone
who wants to take a
dip in the water this summer.