LoBiondo Presses for Passage of his "Right-to-Know" Legislation
Congressman's Legislation to Mandate Public Notification of Raw Sewage Overflows in Nearby Waters Reviewed at Congressional Hearing Today
Legislation introduced earlier this year by U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) was reviewed at a Congressional hearing earlier today. The House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment heard witness testimony about H.R. 2452, the "Raw Sewage Overflow Community Right-to-Know Act," which would mandate public notification by waste water facilities and operators when a sewer overflow occurs in public waters. LoBiondo, who joined with Representative Tim Bishop (NY-01) in May to introduce the bipartisan legislation, is a member of the subcommittee and participated in the hearing.
"Protecting the public's health and safety is the single most important function that government at any level must do. The public has a right to be notified about potential hazards in their swimming and drinking water," said LoBiondo. "The legislation introduced by Representative Bishop and myself is a common-sense practice that should be enacted in all communities across the country. I urge my colleagues on the committee to quickly approve this legislation so that the full House may consider it and the public can be protected."
Specifically, the "Raw Sewage Overflow Community Right-to-Know Act of 2007" would require sewage plant operators to:
Ø Monitor their treatment works for sewage overflows using a management program or technology that will alert them of sewer overflows in a timely manner;
Ø Notify public health officials, the general public and other affected downstream entities including drinking water suppliers of any sewer overflows that endanger human health; and,
Ø Report to the state or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on all sewer overflows within 24 hours of becoming aware of the overflow and follow-up with a written report explaining the duration and volume of the overflow and steps taken to mitigate the overflow and prevent recurrence.
Additionally, under this legislation, sewage plant operators would be eligible for existing federal grants to assist in the installation of monitoring technology.
In September, LoBiondo and Bishop were honored by American Rivers - the national organization which advocates for healthy rivers - for introducing H.R. 2452. A representative from the Healthy Waters Campaign for American Rivers testified at today's hearing.
"Gambling should be left to the casinos in Atlantic City," said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. "We all have a fundamental right to know what's in our water; its safety should never be a roll of the dice."
Currently, LoBiondo and Bishop's bipartisan legislation has 42 co-sponsors in the House. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) recently introduced a companion bill to the "Raw Sewage Overflow Community Right-to-Know Act" in the Senate.