A new law should inform you when sewage contaminates our waterways, so you can avoid recreation that may put your health at risk. But you still won’t know about most sewage discharges if NY implements the law as it intends.
There are 937 combined sewage overflow (CSO) outfalls across NY State that together dump more than 33 billion gallons of raw sewage and stormwater runoff in our waters each year. Discharges from these antiquated combined sewer systems account for the majority of sewage that is released into the waters where we swim, boat and fish.
Despite this fact, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) plans to exclude CSO discharges from its sewage discharge reporting. Instead the DEC has posted a standing advisory, putting the burden on the public to figure out if there are CSO outfalls near the location where they plan to enter the water, and to determine whether or not a CSO may have discharged due to rain.
This is not the simple and comprehensive water quality notification called for in the Sewage Pollution Right to Know law.
While DEC is still drafting the regulations for this law, please contact Governor Cuomo and urge him to ensure that we get the consistent and comprehensive water quality warnings we expect.