From March through December 2010, the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant on Long Island, NY periodically released sewage 40 times above the legal limit into Reynolds Channel in Hempstead Bay, and no one notified the public about it. Community groups and concerned citizens demanded that the County fix the problem and, as a result, plant remediation has begun and the plant has been discharging in legal limits since January.
However, if high levels of sewage were to be dumped again, there is no protocol for notifying the public. A group of concerned citizens, environmentalists and civic leaders formed the Sludge Stoppers Task Force to address this problem of sewage spills and lack of public notification.
Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg introduced the “Nassau County Right to Know of a Sewage Spill Bill” that would require agencies to report sewage spills and other discharge violations to the public. The Central Long Island Chapter is helping to circulate an online petition to generate public support for this bill. View the petition here.
There was a similar bill submitted to the U.S. Congress during the last session, but it never made it to the floor for a vote. I find it amazing that we need legislation to force treatment plants to let people know if there has been a sewage leak, even more amazing that a public representative could take a position against such a bill.