For Immediate Release Contact: Adrianne Marsh
February 23, 2005 (202) 225-4796, (734) 395-4397
STUPAK FINDS STRONG BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR LETTER TO E.P.A. CALLING FOR A STOP TO SEWAGE DUMPING
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) was joined by Congressmen Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (R-FL) in initiating a letter to Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Stephen L. Johnson urging the EPA not to implement a proposal that would allow partially treated human sewage to be dumped into our waterways, including the Great Lakes. The letter was signed by 135 of Stupak's colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
The letter is a preview to a bill Stupak plans to reintroduce when Congress returns from the President's Day work period if the EPA chooses not to act on the letter request. The Sewage Free Waters Act, first introduced last year, would block the EPA proposal.
"We are sending a strong message to the EPA that we will fight to block them from weakening the Clean Water Act and turning back the clock on water protections," Stupak said. "Waste water treatment facilities in cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Toronto, and Chicago dump billions of gallons of partially treated sewage into our Great Lakes waterways each year. We need to act now before the EPA enacts this reckless policy."
The Sewage Free Waters Act was prompted by a November 2003 draft policy issued by the EPA that would allow publicly owned water treatment facilities to combine the filtered but untreated human sewage with fully treated wastewater before discharge, in a process known as "blending." Implementing this policy would effectively lift the current prohibition on bypassing a crucial second treatment step allowing more bacteria, pathogens, viruses and parasites into our Great Lakes. Researchers at Michigan State University recently determined that the public health risks from swimming in waters receiving blended sewage are 100 times greater than if the wastewater were fully treated.
"The EPA is proposing an irresponsible policy that would permit dangerous sewage releases into the Great Lakes. This letter to the EPA is asking them stop the rollback of 30 years of progress under the Clean Water Act," said Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes Advocate for PIRGIM (Public Interest Research Group in Michigan).
"Our Great Lakes are a source of drinking water for nearly 33 million people, and a provider of our fishing, recreation and tourism. The consequences of the EPA's proposal will result in more beach closings, people falling ill, and degrading our Great Lakes ecosystem," Stupak said.
An actuality is available at 1-800-320-6091. Enter access code 2694.
NOTE TO EDITOR: A COPY OF THE LETTER IS AVAILABLE AT www.house.gov/stupak
Congressman Bart Stupak
1st Congressional District of Michigan
Washington, D.C. 20515