The Honorable Michael Leavitt
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
Subject: Keep inadequately treated sewage out of our waters
Dear Administrator Leavitt:
I urge you to drop the proposed policy that would allow sewage treatment plants to routinely discharge inadequately treated sewage during rain events. The proposed policy would increase the amount of bacteria, viruses and parasites discharged into the nation's recreational waters and drinking water supplies.
The EPA's proposed policy (which it calls “blending”) would mix together treated and largely untreated sewage before discharge. Blending is dangerous because it would allow sewage-infested wastewater to be discharged without removing most of the pathogenic organisms and other pollutants. The proposed policy would allow blending even when feasible alternatives exist, such as such as constructing additional capacity or storing sewage until it could be fully treated.
More than half of all waterborne disease outbreaks in the U.S. in the past 50 years were preceded by heavy rainfall. Pathogens in sewage-contaminated waters can cause gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses, dysentery and hepatitis, conditions that can be life threatening for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
Discharges of untreated and inadequately treated sewage in [name state or community] cause beach closures, algal blooms, waterborne illness, and other environmental and public health harms. The Clean Water Act requires sewage to receive effective treatment before it is discharged into streams, lakes, and coastal waters.
I urge you to abandon this seriously misguided proposal, and instead protect Americans' health by requiring effective sewage treatment at all times.
Att'n: Docket # OW-2003-0025 Environmental Protection Agency, Water Docket Email: OW-Docket@epa.gov