Environmental groups seek better practices for untreated sewage dumps into rivers

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:13 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - 20 million gallons of untreated sewage was dumped into the Black and St. Lawrence Rivers after a Christmas thaw. The practice may be legal, but it’s not popular.

“As humans, we’ve learned that you don’t want to learn where your waste is and you don’t want to be consuming your waste either. So, on that scale, it can be bad for animals,” said Lauren Eggleston, Assistant Director of Save The River.

Eggleston is with the environmental group Save the River which watches over the St. Lawrence River. The group doesn’t blame water treatment facilities or those who run them, knowing that the practice of dumping sewage after a storm protects the plants.

But she encourages facilities to become better. Eggleston suggests lawmakers and the public should push for expensive upgrades to prevent the overflow.

“That is our best step forward is to advocate so that our systems can be upgraded and our staffing is adequate so that we can do better than what we’re doing right now,” said Eggleston.

While the discharge is legal, Eggleston says the conditions it creates for wildlife aren’t necessarily ideal. So she thinks it might be better if the regulations tighten up.

“The more that we can advocate for the health of our rivers and the more that we can push for regulations from the Department of Health and our state and federal agencies, the better our water quality will be in the future,” said Eggleston.

The situation may not be dire, but for many it’s certainly not desirable. It’s outcome, however, Eggleston feels is in the hands of the people.