Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Advocate, June 2005


National Grassroots Campaign Cheers Victory

     As a result of tremendous actions taken by national, state, and local organizations, elected officials, and citizens, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) flawed policy proposal that would have allowed poorly treated sewage to be dumped in our nation’s waterways was stopped. 

     In a May 19, 2005, press release, EPA stated, “Based on review of all public comments and congressional hearings, EPA will not finalize the sewage blending policy as proposed in November 2003.”  For more information, visit

     EPA is now expected to review policy and regulatory alternatives “to develop the most feasible approaches to treat wastewater and protect communities, upstream and downstream.”  Clean Ocean Action looks forward to ensuring that our waters are protected as EPA reviews and considers any alternatives.

     Congratulations to the officials, organizations, and citizens working together to protect our waters by condemning EPA’s policy.  This victory is a great example of how citizens and organizations can work together to protect water quality and public health.  EPA’s policy would have allowed sewage treatment plants to bypass advanced treatment of sewage in times of wet weather, and then “blend” the filtered, but untreated, wastewater with fully treated wastewater before discharging into our nation’s lakes, rivers, and oceans.  If this policy was approved and implemented, the result would have been more beach closures, closed shellfish beds, and human illness due to contact with sewage-polluted waters.


A Brief Action History

     On November 7, 2003, EPA requested public comments on its “proposed policy addressing the practice of blending at publicly owned sewage treatment facilities during periods of high flow caused by rainfall or snowmelt.”  In February 2004, COA submitted comments on behalf of 25 organizations opposing EPA’s draft policy, but the fight continued.

     On February 22, 2005, led by US Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and other Representatives, 135 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA condemning the policy.  The action continued and on Thursday, May 19, US Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI), Clay Shaw (R-FL), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Jeff Miller (R-FL) proposed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2006 Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill in order to prevent EPA from spending any funds to finalize its proposed sewage dumping policy, thereby blocking EPA from finalizing the policy.  The amendment was likely to pass when EPA made the announcement to withdraw the policy.

     The bi-partisan bill, H.R. 1126 or  “Save Our Oceans from Sewage Act,” to ensure that EPA does not move ahead with this, or a similar policy, is gathering support.   Sponsored by Rep. Stupak (D-MI), current co-sponsors include NJ Reps. Holt, Pallone, Saxton, and Smith, as well as 34 Representatives from other states.


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