Washington, Apr 17
Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) passed an amendment to the Beaches Protection Act last night that will make Ohio’s shores cleaner and safer, while protecting the local economy. The amendment would let the public know when a state or local government is able to identify the source of pathogenic contamination of water bodies like Lake Erie.
HR 2537, the Beaches Protection Act, would allow state and local governments that get grants to monitor beach water quality to use their funds to identify the source of the contamination. The Kucinich amendment requires that the public is notified when the polluter is identified.
Kucinich said, “Communities deserve to know about the health threats that exist in their own backyard. When people are given information about pollution sources in their neighborhood, they become stewards of the environment.”
Community Right-to-Know approaches to environmental protection have been held up as an example of effectiveness, empowerment, and low cost in environmental protection strategies. The Toxics Release Inventory, which discloses pollution information from the largest facilities, is a well-known example.
Kucinich said, “Citizens should know where and when the contamination occurs so they can avoid exposure to it. But they should also know where it is coming from so they can work to prevent it.”
Beach waters contaminated by raw sewage, one of the primary causes of substandard water quality, pose threats to health and to the economy. The short term health risks of swimming in water contaminated with biological pathogens are known to include gastroenteritis, respiratory infection, ear infection, skin rashes, and pinkeye. Lake Erie provides drinking water for approximately 11 million people. The risks are also economic. Many coastal communities, including Northeast Ohio, depend on tourism for their local economies.
Lake Erie alone generates $2.5 billion dollars annually in tourism revenue. Kucinich said, “Northern Ohio relies heavily on the integrity of Lake Erie water. We have to be vigilant in protecting it. My amendment allows Ohoians to do just that.”
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