10.09.15

SCHUMER: MONTREAL’S PLAN TO RELEASE 8 BILLION LITERS OF RAW SEWAGE INTO THE ST. LAWRENCE MUST NOT HAPPEN; SENATOR CALLS ON EPA TO STEP IN & PROTECT ST. LAWRENCE RIVER & RESIDENTS; IMPACT OF SEWAGE ON RIVER & TOURISM COULD BE SIGNIFICANT

Schumer Says Canadian Plan To Release Billions Of Liters Of Raw Sewage Into The River Is An Ecological Nightmare That U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) Must Clog; Urges Fed Agency to Once Again Work With Canadian Officials To Protect St. Lawrence

Current Montreal Proposal Would Negatively Affect Tourism, Ecosystem, Communities & Wildlife That Count On The Clean Water Of The St. Lawrence River To Survive

 Schumer: Irresponsible Montreal Sewage Dumping Plan Must Be Flushed In The Next Two Weeks

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) to work with Canadian officials and the U.S. Department of State to stop the City of Montreal's plan to dump eight billion liters of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River. Schumer said that, despite not being directly downstream, the plan to dump raw sewage could impact river’s overall quality of water, the surrounding ecosystems, and riverside communities, as well as potentially impact the infusion of tourism dollars that flow into St. Lawrence County each and every year because of the St. Lawrence’s beauty.

“The City of Montreal’s plan to dump 8 billion liters of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River must be flushed immediately. If this plan is allowed to move forward, this sewage could severely impact the river ecosystem and wildlife, and the St. Lawrence County tourism industry on which the North Country depends,” said Schumer. “I am urging the EPA and the State Department to take action and immediately engage the Canadian government to remedy this situation so we can protect one of New York State’s – and Canada's – most cherished resources and treasures. Plain and simple: this plan is a raw deal and it stinks for the North Country – and I intend to do all I can to make sure the St. Lawrence River is not sullied by it.”

City of Montreal officials claim that the dumping of 8 billion liters of raw sewage is the preferred option to allow the City to complete a major construction project. However, Schumer says an alternative must be found, as this plan could have devastating effects on the St. Lawrence River, the wildlife and ecosystems it supports, as well as the communities it flows through and the thriving Upstate tourism industry that relies upon it. 

With the City of Montreal slated to dump the sewage beginning October 18, Schumer said the EPA and the State Department must get involved immediately, before this two week deadline arrives and this dumping of sewage negatively impacts the wildlife and local economies that rely on the St. Lawrence River. The St. Lawrence River, which is the third largest river in North America, flows from Lake Ontario and continues 744 miles into the Gulf of Lawrence. Of these 744 miles, about 114 miles are located in New York State. Schumer said this bi-national waterway is home to a vast array of wildlife that also provides a key source of tourism for the, North Country economy. 

In order to remedy the situation, Schumer is urging the EPA work with the Canadian government and the State Department to devise an alternative plan for the disposal of the sewage to protect the St. Lawrence River and ensure it is not irreparably damaged. Schumer said that because the U.S. and Canada share the longest unprotected border in the world and because Canada serves as a great ally and trading partner to the U.S., this harmful action by Montreal flies in the face of that partnership.

Schumer said that because the U.S. and Canada have, in the past, worked on agreements in order to protect the Great Lakes, namely the “Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement,” the EPA should work with Canada and the State Department once again to find an alternative to this sewage dumping. Schumer said because this sewage disposal threatens the safety of its population or could lead to long-term pollution, the two countries must work together to remedy the situation immediately.

“Clean water is arguably our planet's most precious and limited resource. Clarkson University and its Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries pursue research and commercialization of new water management technologies every day to expand public understanding of waterways and to find solutions that benefit human health, ecosystems, economic impacts and the quality of life,” said Clarkson University President Tony Collins.  “As regional stewards of the St. Lawrence River, we join Senator Schumer and many other global citizens in asking for more time to find responsible solutions that will enable the urban progress that the City of Montreal seeks to address without compromising the watershed we all value and need to sustain life.”

“Save The River is pleased to be here today with Senator Schumer because we agree with him that the City of Montreal's plan is unacceptable and another solution must be found. We applaud his call for the EPA to offer its expertise and assistance to avoid harm to the St. Lawrence River,” said Lee Willbanks, executive Director of Save the River. “While our portion of the river is not downstream of where the City plans to release this massive amount of raw sewage, it is a part of the River we work every day to protect - the 3rd largest in North America, drinking water to millions and home to many threatened and endangered species. This is unacceptable and in this day and age we can and must do better.”

 Save The River, an advocacy organization committed to protecting the St. Lawrence, has also launched a search for an alternative to the Montreal’s plan on the crowd-sourcing site IdeaBuzz.com. Schumer encouraged anyone concerned about the health of the river to participate in this initiative and offer their ideas.  

A copy of Schumer’s letter to the EPA appears below:

CC: Secretary John Kerry, U.S. Department of State

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

I write to urge the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) to work with Canadian officials in order to address the city of Montreal's plan to dump eight billion liters of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River.  I commend the EPA for its continued support in protecting our pristine bodies of water, however if this plan is allowed to move forward, it could impact the river’s quality of water and the surrounding ecosystems for many years to come.

As you know, the St Lawrence River flows from Lake Ontario and continues 744 miles into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Of these 744 miles, about 114 miles are located in New YorkState.  This bi-national waterway is home to a vast array of wildlife ranging from smallmouth bass to bald eagles, while also providing a key source of source of tourism for these local economies.  According to the current plan, the City of Montreal would dump approximately 8 billion liters of sewage into the river.  This proposal could negatively affect the communities and wildlife that count on the clean water of the St. Lawrence River to survive. As a major stakeholder, along with Canada, in the health and wellbeing of the river, it is imperative that we work together to address this situation.  This is why it is critical that we immediately begin to work with our Canadian partners in order to find another way to address this untreated sewage, and to protect a beautiful, shared waterway that will provide ecological and economic benefits for years to come.

As the plan stands now, Canada will begin dumping sewage into the river on October 18th.  As this is less than two weeks from today, it is crucial that the EPA begins work with Canadian officials immediately to address this situation.  This plan will not only have the ability to hurt our local economies, it may also cause severe harm to our delicate and shared ecosystems, which could take years to remedy.

Again, I thank you for your work in protecting our nation’s bodies of water.  Thank you for your attention to this important request.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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