Ryan calls for action on lingering sewage issues

Oct 21, 2013

A state lawmaker is calling on the Department of Environmental Conservation to enforce the  "Sewage Pollution Right To Know Act," legislation that highlights the need for replacing the area's aging infrastructure.

The law has been in effect more than five months, but the Department of Environmental Conservation has yet to issue regulations.  Assemblyman Sean Ryan says the public is still being kept in the dark about the dumping of raw sewage.  

"Just since May, there's been 252 reported discharges in the Buffalo [River], Niagara [River], Scajaquada Creek, and Lake Erie," Ryan said.

If the DEC acts, the public would notified in real-time about the unhealthy discharges.

"We already have a system in New York State where you can sign up for notices about influenza or if there's weather occurrences. And I would like to just use (for sewage discharge notifications) the current system  that we have."

In the meantime, Ryan will be co-chairing a hearing in Buffalo Tuesday on the proposed Environmental Bond Act. The Democrat says it would provide up to $5 billion for improving aging water and sewer systems across the state.

"Everyone knows there's a problem with our infrastructure. But we need to step up to the table and commit real money to fix this problem. We think Buffalo is going to grow economically over the next generation because of our access to clean water. We call it the 'blue economy.' But the blue economy only works if out water is actually blue and not grey or brown."

If the bond act is approved by the Senate and Assembly, it would be presented to voters in November of 2014.

The hearing on the matter gets underway at 9:30 Tuesday morning at D'Youville College.