Sewage releases into our rivers are a growing health threat in the United States. Wastewater treatment plants dump an estimated 1.3 trillion gallons of untreated sewage and industrial waste into our rivers each year. In 2001, there were approximately 40,000 sanitary sewer overflows and 400,000 cases of sewage backed up into basements. EPA estimates that each year Americans suffer about 3.5 million illnesses from contact with sewage-contaminated water.
This threat to our health and enjoyment of rivers can be solved with adequate regulation and funding for communities to upgrade their wastewater treatment systems. Instead of taking these steps, the Bush administration has proposed to reduce funding for wastewater treatment and expressly allow "blending" of partially treated and untreated sewage for release into public waters after rainstorms.
[Your comments: Why increased funding for sewage treatment is important.]
Please help clean up our rivers and reduce the threats to our health by:
1. Funding the Environmental Protection Agency's "state revolving fund" under the Clean Water Act, which assists communities in upgrading their wastewater treatment plants, at the fully authorized level of $3.2 billion for Fiscal Year 2005.
2. Calling on the administration to withdraw its proposed sewage blending guidance, which would authorize releases of partially treated sewage into our rivers.
3. Co-sponsoring H.R. 2215, the Raw Sewage Overflow Community Right-to-Know Act, which would require that citizens be informed so they can protect themselves when raw sewage has been released into their rivers.
[Your comments: Why you have a right to know when sewage is released into your rivers.]
Thank you for your attention to these requests.