Can you make a call today to protect Massachusetts citizens from unsafe sewage in their rivers?

Millions of residents live near the Commonwealth’s many rivers, which provide essential community resources and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. Unfortunately, citizens currently have no way to know when man-made pollutant discharges render these rivers unsafe for fishing, boating and swimming.

The Issue

  • When it rains, stormwater floods our Commonwealth’s aging sewer systems. This mix of stormwater and wastewater can discharge into rivers and public waterways. These Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) often total millions of gallons of untreated sewage per event.
  • There are 181 active CSO outfalls throughout the Commonwealth, which collectively discharged 2.8 billion gallons of raw sewage into rivers and streams in 2011.
  • Exposure to water contaminated by untreated sewage discharges can cause inflammation of the intestines; respiratory, eye and ear infections; skin rashes; hepatitis, and other diseases.

The Solution

  • S.448/H.2935, An Act promoting awareness of safe recreation in public waterways, would institute a statewide sewage discharge notification system so that Massachusetts residents will know when CSO discharges make their rivers unsafe for recreation.
  • This bill would institute practices already followed by some municipalities:
  1. All CSO permittees must provide a public notification alert within one hour of a CSO discharge.
  2. All CSO outfall operators must install a discharge flow-monitoring meter.
  3. The Department of Environmental Protection will be required to centralize CSO discharge data on their website.
  4. Clear signage must be placed at outfalls and affected public access points.

Below is a sample script for your phone call:

“Hello my name is ___________ and I am from _____________, Massachusetts. I am calling to ask Representative/Senator___________ to support S.448/H.2935, An Act promoting awareness of safe recreation in public waterways. This bill would provide Massachusetts residents with public notices when sewage discharges pollute our rivers. I hope you’ll consider supporting this commonsense measure to protect public health. Thank you for your consideration.”

Please call one or both of the Joint Committee on Environment Chairs:

  • Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (617-722-1540)
  • Representative William Pignatelli (D-Lenox), Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (617-722-2210)

Thank you for your advocacy!