URGENT ACTION ALERT: Help move the sewage notification bill through the Senate!

We are delighted to share that last evening, under the leadership of bill lead sponsor Rep. Campbell and co-lead Rep. Provost, the Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously (159-0) passed the sewage notification bill (now H.4921)! We want to first say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who reached out to their state reps!

However, the fight is not over and we need your help with calling Senators today ASAP to try and move the bill to the Senate floor for a vote! This may be one of our last chances to get this bill done!

You can find your state senator, their phone number and their email address by clicking this link

Below is a suggested script that you can use for leaving a voicemail or sending an email:

“Hello, my name is __________________ and I am a resident of _______________, Massachusetts. I am calling to ask that Senator __________________ reach out to Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues and Senate President Spilka and ask them to move the sewage notification bill (House bill number 4921) to the floor for a vote today.In Massachusetts, the public has no way to know when bacteria-laden sewage discharges render our rivers unsafe for recreation. This bill would institute a statewide sewage discharge notification system to alert residents when sewage discharges make rivers unsafe. This bill was filled by Senator Jehlen and you can email her office if you have any questions. Thanks for your time and consideration.”

Please feel free to include any of the below additional talking points as you see fit: 

  1. This bill passed on the House floor last night unanimously (159-0). 

  2. In Massachusetts, we are still discharging roughly 3 billion gallons of sewage into our waters every year. There is currently no general public notification requirement to alert residents about these sewage spills. 

  3. Particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that the public has equitable access to safe local spots to spend time outside. Combined sewer overflows have been known to cause respiratory issues, hepatitis, eye and ear infections, and gastrointestinal issues. If the public does not even know that these sewage spills are currently happening, how can they be expected to take precautions to protect their health? 

  4. If you live in an environmental justice community, you are three times more likelyto have combined sewer overflows in your neighborhood. We need to make sure that all residents have access to this critical public health information. 

  5. This bill was orginially filed by Rep. Campbell, Rep. Provost and Sen. Jehlen as bill S.490/H.751. Their bill collectively had over 80+ legislators cosponsoring in support. This legislation has strong bipartisan support and should be passed immediately. 

  6. This is the fourth session that this issue has come before the House. It has been significantly improved this session in ENRA thanks to the leadership and coordination of Chair Pignatelli, Chair Campbell and Rep. Provost. It has the support of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), the Baker Administration, MA DEP, and EEA and has passed in the Senate previously.  

  7. This legislation is also supported by elected and appointed municipal officials across all regions of our state (including a representative number of 149 having signed a letter of support directed to House leadership). 

  8. Additionally, previous bond bill funding has already been secured to establish a municipal grant program for establishing these notification systems ($800K in the 2018 Environmental Bond Bill). Bond bill funding has also been secured for MA DEP to establish a website to maintain information about sewage spills across the state ($250K in the 2014 Environmental Bond Bill, reauthorized in 2018 Environmental Bond Bill). 

  9. Over 14 states have passed nearly identical public notification requirements that would enable their residents to know when there is a sewage spill in their community. It’s time that Massachusetts stepped up to do the same. 

Thank you in advance for your support and advocacy! Please reach out to gabbyqueenan@massriversalliance.org if you have any questions!

ABOUT US >

Founded in 2007, Mass Rivers works to strengthen statewide river policies in four areas: Water quality, stream flow, wildlife habitat, and investment in green infrastructure.

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gretchenmcclain@massriversalliance.org

617.714.4272

2343 Massachusetts Ave

Cambridge, MA 02140

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