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Posting Pollution Increases Awareness
"Fisherman's right-to-know" law requires companies and sewer systems to post signs where pipes discharge pollution into rivers and streams.
What's the Problem?
Across the country, 40 percent of the nation's assessed waters are still unsafe for fishing, swimming, or supporting aquatic life. Yet, finding out about local water pollution sources is not easy. Most people do not know where discharge pipes are located or the specific nature of the pollution being discharged. Finding out may take slow-moving freedom of information requests or travel to regional government offices.
How Does Posting Help?
Posting signs at pollution discharge pipes helps protect people and builds public support to prevent pollution. For example, signs posted in New York City have enabled people to act as 'additional eyes and ears' for the Department of Environmental Protection by spotting and reporting unusual discharges during dry weather. In general, such posting helps to:
New York Posts Pollution
The state of New York is posting signs at all major water pollution outfall pipes under the state's Discharge Notification Act of 1996. Under this law:
Progress and Exemptions
As of April 2003, New York's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reports that almost all of some 360 major dischargers (not including NYC) have posted signs at discharge pipes. An additional 3,000 non-major dischargers are posting signs over time as a condition of their permit renewals. Many of these polluters are also requesting waivers, most of which DEC approves. Reasons for waivers include unreasonable maintenance; locations that the public can't see; and discharges that only carry storm water run-off.
The Missing Link
A physical sign identifying pollution is only one part of a more informative 'dual notification' system of local signs and organized computer access. Posting laws, including New York's, should also inform the public through an on-line database. This would enable people to learn about water pollution and to get the big picture, all from a personal computer.
For More Information
Please contact Citizen's Campaign For the Environment (www.citizenscampaign.org). CCE lead the effort to pass the Act and strengthen New Yorkers' right-to-know about water pollution.