WESTCHESTER, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Thursday requiring all publicly owned sewage treatment plants and sewer systems to notify the general public whenever the facility discharges untreated or partially treated sewage. The governor signed the law as millions of gallons of sewage were being discharged into the Hudson River by a broken sewer main in Tarrytown.
"New Yorkers have a right to know when potentially harmful, untreated sewage is discharged into waterways in their communities," Cuomo said. "These new notification requirements will let the general public know when untreated sewage is released in water bodies, especially swimming beaches and fishing areas. In addition, this new law will also raise awareness of the need for upgrades and maintenance of our state's waste water infrastructure."
The "Sewage Pollution Right to Know" law will take affect May 1, 2013.
Currently, the governor's office said, sewage treatment plants are only required to notify the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and local health departments if instances of untreated or partially treated sewage may affect shellfish harvesting, swimming or recreation areas.
“After this bill becomes law the public will receive water quality notifications through the press similar to the ozone, pollen and severe weather warnings we have all come to rely on today. In a state with so many opportunities for water recreation, New Yorkers will appreciate ready access to information about the varying water quality conditions in their communities on any given day,” said Tracy Brown, Ossining-based Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Advocate who worked on the legislation, in a statement.