Dold, Quigley, Lipinski Sponsor House Bill; 24 Billion Gallons of Raw Sewage, Storm Water Dumped Into Lakes every year
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 18, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), along with U.S. Representatives Robert Dold (R-Ill.-10), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.-5) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.-03) introduced the Great Lakes Water Protection Act (GLWPA), which would set a 2035 deadline to end sewage dumping in the Great Lakes, provide clean water for the next generation, and minimize the economic impact beach closures have on local communities every year.
An estimated 24 billion gallons of combined untreated sewage and storm water are dumped into the Great Lakes each year. This sewage contributes to hundreds of beach closure, threatens the source of drinking water for more than 30 million Americans, and endangers the environmental wellbeing of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
“Thirty million Americans depend on the Great Lakes for drinking and swimming,” Senator Kirk said. “Our crown jewel of the midwest is not a dumpster for sewage.”
“The Great Lakes are truly a shared national treasure, holding 95% of our country’s surface fresh water and providing drinking water to over 30 million people,” said Rep. Dold. “As a scoutmaster, I teach Boy Scouts the principle of leaving areas better than when we found them. The Great Lakes Water Protection Act is a commonsense, bipartisan solution to fulfill this pledge with one of our country’s greatest natural resources.”
“The Great Lakes are our region’s most precious natural resource and we must do more to protect them,” said Rep. Lipinski. “We cannot continue to allow the dumping of billions of gallons of raw sewage in the waters we use for drinking, swimming, boating, and fishing. The penalties will deter dumping and help pay for infrastructure improvements that will help alleviate future dumping.”
“No one understands the role the Great Lakes play more than the 30 million people who depend on them for their drinking water, jobs, health and way of life. However, the continued dumping of billions of gallons of combined untreated sewage and storm water is threatening our way of life and will lead to permanent damage if we don’t put a stop to it soon,” said Rep. Quigley. “I’m proud to join Republicans and Democrats in introducing the Great Lakes Clean Water Bill, which will provide essential solutions to maintain our Great Lakes for generations to come.”
The Great Lakes Water Protection Act bans sewage dumping into the Great Lakes by 2035, giving communities 20 years to make the necessary upgrades to their infrastructure before fines are increased from $37,500 to $100,000 a day per violation. The money collected from fines would flow to a Great Lakes Clean-Up Fund, generating resources for Great Lakes states to improve wastewater treatment options and systems, as well as habitat protection. The legislation also requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish notice requirements across all Great Lakes states to ensure the public is notified when an illegal sewage discharge event occurs, providing families with the information they need to protect their loved ones from harmful exposure.
“The Alliance for the Great Lakes supports The Great Lakes Water Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Kirk. The Act is an important step forward in improving public notification about sewage overflows by setting uniform reporting guidelines for all eight Great Lakes states. The legislation also tackles the long-term need to eliminate sewage overflows altogether by setting a deadline for all Great Lakes states to stop overflows by 2035, which would ensure that our lakes are clean and safe for people and wildlife,” said Molly M. Flanagan, Vice President of Policy at the Alliance for the Great Lakes.
GLWPA is also endorsed by the Healing our Waters Coalition, the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, American Rivers, and the Evangelical Environmental Network. There are more than 50 public Lake Michigan beaches in Illinois, and every year high levels of harmful pathogens, like E.coli, cause hundreds of beach closures and contamination advisories, costing the local economy millions of dollars. Between 2012 and 2013, Illinois Lake Michigan beaches experienced nearly 700 closures and advisories. Beach closures cost taxpayers an estimated $2.4 million annually, according to a University of Chicago study.