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When It Rains, It Pours Sewage

Date : Fri, 10 Feb 2012 11:20:24 -0500

/For Immediate Release/
February 9, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*When It Rains, It Pours Sewage*

/Sierra Club Supports CSO Notification Bill/ Today the Senate Environment Committee released S831 (Smith), a bill establishing notification requirements when combined sewer overflows occur.The flooding and resulting news reports this summer and fall have brought attention to this very serious water quality issue in New Jersey.New Jersey is ranked one of the worst in the nation by the EPA in trying to clean up and correct combined sewer overall problems.About 23 billion gallons of raw or partially treated sewage enter our waterways every year.Every time we have heavy rains, raw and partially treated sewerage ends up in our rivers and bays, threatening the health of people.This legislation would require municipalities to inform residents when that toxic material enters waterways at the more than 200 permitted combined sewer outfalls across the state or when raw sewerage backs up out of manhole covers, out of pipes into people's homes or out of other outflows that are not permitted.

"What we don't know can hurt us.Every time it rains raw and partially treated sewage ends up in our waterways.When it floods it can end up in our homes and basements. We must let the public know about the potential health threat of sewerage in flood waters and this bill is an important step in that direction," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*. Many of our sewer plants were discharging raw sewerage into waterways during the recent storms.These facilities went to great lengths to prevent this as much as they could but raw sewerage was released from these plants including 50,000 gallons from the BCUA plant in Bergen County during Hurricane Irene.

"Public notice is critical when there are flood waters containing a witch's brew of bacteria among other things.However notice is not enough.We need to come up with a plan and establish a funding mechanism to address this problem," *said Jeff Tittel*. Recently Hoboken installed a pump to discharge combined sewer overflow from a low-lying section of the city directly into the Hudson River.There seems to be no enforcement by the state on combined sewer overflow or any movement to correct any of these problems.Even simple measures are not being implemented such as chlorine treatment at the point of discharge to reduce bacteria or programs to require cities to address these issues such as storage tanks and methods to separate sewerage from storm water.We are also concerned that some of the combined sewer overflows are above water supply intakes like Two Bridges and Little Falls on the Passaic River and Bridgewater on the Raritan River.The lack of enforcement by New Jersey is so apparent that a mayor was quoted in the newspaper saying that he does not have to comply since there is no enforcement. New Jersey has failed to provide a grant program to cities to update their combined sewer overflow prevention systems.Having a revolving loan fund is not enough. The state has not invested resources into fixing this problem that is so widespread. Combined sewer overflow undermines the revitalization of our cities and older towns because no one wants to invest in areas that are flooded with raw sewerage after heavy rains.This problem increases water treatment costs and causes many of our beaches and waterways to close.This closes these waterways to recreational uses and there is no notification system so swimmers, kayakers, and others could be in these waterways when they are not supposed to be. There are additional steps the Legislature needs to take on this issue beyond the notification requirements. The Legislature should also adopt pending bills on green and blue roofs sponsored by Assemblyman Ramos.A grant program should be established to help cities finance the engineering bills to correct these systems.Other infrastructure financing methods should be changed to allow for more upgrades to these systems.

"This bill will help let the public know what is in this water, leading to the public outrage which will help get this problem fixed," *said Jeff Tittel*.

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-02-10 08:20:24

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