Proposed Clean Water Bill - Update

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by ShakeDown, May 19, 2007.

  1. ShakeDown

    ShakeDown OGF Staff Staff Member Admin

    Received the following email the other day in regards to the effort Ol' Whiskers (thanks Dennis!) brought to light last year. Sounds like it's still being persued, which is great news for everyone who enjoys Ohio's waterways.

    Hello Colleagues,

    Next Wednesday, Environment Ohio will be releasing a report detailing the quantity of sewage pollution in Lake Erie in 2005. We are holding a press conference with Representative Oelslager (R-Canton) who is re-introducing legislation that will require utilities to notify the public (and the OEPA) when untreated sewage overflows from their system.
    So far, 7 other Republicans and 6 Democrats have signed on to cosponsor the bill, and we are hoping even more will by next week.

    Thanks to so many of you for helping with this work so far.I hope that you can continue to support this effort by:

    1. Signing on to the coalition letter below (thank you to the groups that signed on to this letter last year - you are all listed below).
    2. Calling Rep. Oelslager to thank him for his work on this issue thus far- (614) 752-2438
    3. If you are available, Representative Oelslager asked that I invite other supportive groups to the press conference. It is at 10am on Wed. 23rd at the statehouse in Columbus.
    OLCV, OEC, the Sierra Club,and Dr. Buckley from OSU's College of Public Health will be joining us. If you are interested in attending, please email or call me at, 614-460-8732 for more information.

    Thanks again for all of your contributions to this effort, and I look forward to hopefully passing some PRO-active environmental legislation this session,


    Amy Gomberg
    Environment Ohio - Environmental Advocate
    197 E. Broad St. Suite 306
    Columbus, Ohio 43215
    ***The New Home to the Environmental Work of Ohio PIRG***
    Dear Representative,

    We, the undersigned, urge you to protect the health of Ohioans from the threats of untreated sewage by co-sponsoring Representative Oelslager’s legislation. Billions of gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage are contaminating Ohio’s waterways, including Lake Erie, and are putting the health of Ohioans at risk. Ohioans deserve clean water that is safe for fishing, boating and swimming.

    Sewage overflows into our waterways when sanitary sewers, sewer bypasses, and combined sewers, that contain storm water and sewage, overflow. Sewage overflows are a major source of beach advisories, wildlife destruction, and human health problems. Untreated and inadequately treated sewage contains disease-causing pathogens including E. Coli, Hepatitis A, and Giardia. Anyone who comes into contact with water that is contaminated with sewage is putting their health at risk. Sewage is also a likely contributor to the dead zone in Lake Erie’s central and Sandusky basins.

    Key Facts about Sewage Pollution in Ohio:
    • There are 85 communities in Ohio that have combined sewer systems, discharging untreated sewage in our rivers, lakes and streams.
    • Over 10.9 billion gallons of sewage, from 38 communities were discharged into the Lake Erie watershed basin in 2005. This is equivalent to more than three billion toilets flushing into Lake Erie: a drinking water source for over eleven million people.
    • Hepatitis A was recently found in the Cuyahoga River, in a study done by the Unites States Geological Survey. This virus was also found in effluent coming from the Akron wastewater treatment facility.
    • Recently, another dead zone was discovered in the Sandusky Bay, of Lake Erie.

    Unfortunately, Ohio is behind all the other Great Lakes States, and has NO statewide requirements for sewage treatment facilities to report to our environmental agency and to the public when they are dumping disease-ridden raw sewage. Ohio should follow the lead of states like Indiana and Michigan and pass legislation that requires consistent reporting of sewage discharges and that requires a full public notification system.

    Please protect the health of Ohioans, and support H.B. ____ .
    (NOTE: we will have the new bill # next week)


    Environment Ohio
    Amy Gomberg
    Environmental Advocate
    197 E. Broad St. Suite 306
    Columbus, Ohio 43215

    Ohio Game Fishing LLC
    Representing 9000+ Ohio Anglers and Hunters
    Brandon M. Smith
    4856 Sawmill Road # 347
    Columbus, Ohio 43235

    National Wildlife Federation
    Chris Grubb
    Policy Program Manager
    213 W. Liberty
    Ann Arbor, MI

    Izaak Walton League of America, Ohio Division
    Raymond Zehler
    Executive Director
    900 Morman Rd
    Hamilton, Ohio 45013-4358

    Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Midwestern Office
    Rhonda Border-Boose
    Executive Director
    30 Liberty St.
    Canal Winchester, Ohio

    Ohio League of Conservation Voters
    Bill De Mora
    Executive Director
    1200 W Fifth Ave,
    Columbus, OH 43212

    Sierra Club, Ohio Chapter
    Enid Nagel, Chair

    Ohio Bass Chapter Federation
    Donald Schoonover
    Conservation Director
    203 Briarwood Dr.
    Gallipolis, Ohio 45631

    Rivers Unlimited
    Mike Freemont
    Executive Director
    515 Wyoming Avenue
    Cincinnati, OH 45215

    North Coast Charter Boat Association
    (Representing 100 charter boat captains)
    Capt. John Abercrombie
    PO Box 67
    Grand River, Ohio 44045

    American Rivers
    Betsy Otto
    Senior Director, River Advocacy
    1101 14th Street NW, Suite 1400
    Washington, DC 20005-5637
    (202) 347-7550 x3033

    Western Lake Erie WATERKEEPER®
    Sandy Bihn
    6565 Bayshore Rd.
    Oregon, Ohio 43618

    Ohio Parks and Recreation Association
    Michelle Park, Jerry Eldred
    Executive Director
    Columbus, Ohio

    Ohio Farmers Union
    Joe Logan
    9605 Stoddard-Hayes Rd.
    Kinsman, Ohio 44428

    Buckeye Forest Council
    Brandi Whetstone
    Executive Director
    120 E. Kelso Rd.
    Columbus, Ohio
  2. • There are 85 communities in Ohio that have combined sewer systems, discharging untreated sewage in our rivers, lakes and streams.
    • Over 10.9 billion gallons of sewage, from 38 communities were discharged into the Lake Erie watershed basin in 2005. This is equivalent to more than three billion toilets flushing into Lake Erie: a drinking water source for over eleven million people.

    Great info Shakedown, I wasn't aware all that sewage was going in to the lake. What got my attention was 85 communities dump untreated sewage into the Lake? Who are all these 123 communities and why do they think its ok to dump sewage into the river/lake? Why haven't the health department/OEPA fine/shut them down until fixed? This is a good cause to get behind.

  3. ShakeDown

    ShakeDown OGF Staff Staff Member Admin

    This Weds at 10 am, I (along with Ol' Whiskers I believe) have been asked to testify before the House of Representatives Committee on Evironmental and Economic Development, in support of Rep Oelslager's proposed Clean Waterways bill.

    Currently, there is no law requiring utilities to report waste spillages or overflows into Ohio waterways if they occur after flooding and/or storms. The proposed Bill would mandate that utilities report overflows and spillage data on a routine basis (monthly if I'm not mistaken). The end result would at the least keep us as Ohio citizens informed as to the condition of our waterways, and hopefully raise an eyebrow to the issue and result in more regulations and funding to help prevent these kinds of problems in the future. This impacts not only those of us who actively use our waterways for recreational purposes (fishing, boating, swimming, etc.) but impacts Ohio citizens as a whole.

    I'm working on my testimony now (with help from Amy Gomberg) and will post it here once the draft is finalized. I hope that at the least it raises the public's awareness as to what's happening to our resources so we can try to prevent it from happening in the future.


  4. ShakeDown

    ShakeDown OGF Staff Staff Member Admin answer your question (as best I can) it's not so much of a question of deliberate dumping, as it is "accidental" from flooding and storms. Currently, there's nothing requiring the utilities to report the overflow after a storm. The proposed bill would do just that, require them to report that data on a regular basis.
  5. Shakedown,

    Did you pick up on needing to bring 30 copies of your testimony for the committee?

    I'll be there Wednesday morning. Got mine done tonight.
  6. Thanks for representing us all guys. You're our voice and your testimony is appreciated.
  7. ShakeDown

    ShakeDown OGF Staff Staff Member Admin

    Dennis...That's the first I've heard of it!! Thanks for the heads up, and look forward to finally meeting you tomorrow.
  8. Yesterday was a new experience for me, talking to Ohio Representatives about sewage problems.

    Shakedown was there in style, suit and everything. He did a great job conveying the cause of the Ohio fisherman in his testimony. Thanks, Brandon!

    Here's the cover letter to my testimony. I'll attach the presentation when I get it converted to a smaller file format:

    20 June 2007

    Ohio House of Representatives
    Economic Development and Environment Committee
    77 S. High St.
    Columbus, OH 43215-6111

    Chairman Collier and Honorable Committee Members,

    I would like to thank you for offering the opportunity to present testimony in support of Representative Oelslager’s legislation, HB 235, to require public notification immediately upon releasing a sewage discharge into any of Ohio’s waters or lands. My testimony today is given to illustrate the problem, noting recent sewage discharges we’re having from the Hamilton Wastewater Treatment Plant here on the Great Miami River, some of which I and my family have witnessed firsthand. The events I depict include discharges of both wastewater from the Mohawk Paper Plant, and discharges of other untreated wastewater. These discharges occurred from a combined sewer overflow pipe, yet did not occur after a rain event, and therefore are evident of egregious and blatant disregards for community health and environmental impact to the river corridor. While the presentation perspective originates from a fisherman’s viewpoint, this is a serious matter for overall public health and safety in all of Ohio.

    As you will see, I have made numerous contacts with the principal entities involved in the sewage discharges, along with Ohio EPA and Federal EPA, and finally with the Ohio Attorney General’s office. To date, none of these persons have provided any substantive answers to the myriad questions I've presented, and no one has been willing to commit any answer in writing. I am hopeful that relaying our experiences on the Great Miami River in Hamilton will help to reinforce the immediate need for this legislation introduced by Representative Oelslager, to ensure health and safety for all Ohio citizens and visitors.

    The proposed legislation in HB235 is an excellent first step. Given the gravity of the sewage discharges here in Hamilton, their immediate and long-term effects on the river system and those Ohioans that use it, I believe much more stringent measures are warranted. Public notification is an after-event bandage on a huge festering sore, but will serve as the best first-aid currently available. At the very least it will provide for some public accountability on those municipalities, corporations and agencies that, having been charged with preserving our health and well being, rather have determined to obfuscate their actions. Please consider support for the legislation and allow Ohio’s citizens to better choose to use natural waterways in an educated and safe manner.

    I truly appreciate your open ear, and thank you in advance for your support.


    Dennis J. Malone
    3808 Schroeder Drive
    Hamilton, OH 45011

    cc: Representative W. Scott Oelslager
  9. ShakeDown

    ShakeDown OGF Staff Staff Member Admin

    Dennis, it was my pleasure to help with such a worthy cause and I appreciate on the opportunity on behalf of OGF and myself.

    Your testimony was outstanding, and I think the powerpoint with the pictures really helped the issue hit home.

    What an experience that was! If it wasn't for Amy, I'm not sure if I would've made it through it :D

    Looking forward to listening to your call in tomorrow on Inside The Great Outdoors, and I hope that everyone can take a minute to read about the bill here, as it effects us all.