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Mark K.
Republican IL

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  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Mark Kirk

    Posted on 2013-03-14

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    KIRK (for himself and Mr. Durbin): S. 571. A bill to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to establish a deadline for restricting sewage dumping into the Great Lakes and to fund programs and activities for improving wastewater discharges into the Great Lakes; to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

    Mr. KIRK. Mr. President, today I rise to join with Senator Durbin to introduce the Great Lakes Water Protection Act. This bipartisan legislation would set a date certain to end sewage dumping in the Great Lakes, America's largest source of surface fresh water. The Great Lakes are home to more than 3,500 species of plants and animals and are the source of drinking water for more than 30 million Americans. It is time that we put a stop to the poisoning of our water supply. Cities along the Great Lakes must become environmental stewards of our country's most precious freshwater ecosystem and take action to reverse the trend of discharging sewage into the Great Lakes.

    The Great Lakes Water Protection Act gives cities until 2033 to build the necessary infrastructure to prevent sewage dumping in the Great Lakes. Those who violate the EPA's sewage dumping regulations after this deadline will be subject to fines up to $100,000 for every day they are in violation. These fines would be directed into a Great Lakes Clean-Up Fund within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to be used for wastewater treatment options, with a special focus on greener solutions such as habitat protection and wetland restoration.

    Many cities along the Great Lakes Basin lack the critical infrastructure needed to divert sewage overflows during times of heavy rainfall. Some reports estimate that as much as 24 billion gallons of combined sewage and storm water runoff are dumped into the Great Lakes every year. Loaded with a mix of bacteria and other pathogens, untreated sewage poses a serious threat to public health and safety and is one of the leading causes of beach closings and contamination advisories at Great Lakes beaches.

    According to data collected over the past 5 years by the Illinois Department of Public Health, it is not uncommon to see the total number of beach closures and contamination advisories across the Lake Michigan beaches in our State exceed 500 in a single swim season. These events threaten the health of our children and families and cost local economies millions. A University of Chicago study concluded the closings due to high levels of harmful pathogens like E.coli cost the local economy about $2.4 million each year in lost revenue.

    Protecting the Great Lakes is one of my top priorities in Congress. As an original cosponsor of the Great Lakes Restoration Act, I support a broad approach to address some of the greatest challenges to the Great Lakes ecosystem and the economic growth of the region. However, while we continue to push for comprehensive Great Lakes restoration, we must also move forward with tailored approaches to tackle specific problems.

    I am proud to introduce this important legislation to end the disastrous practice of releasing billions of gallons of untreated sewage into our Nation's most abundant source of freshwater. It is my hope that my colleagues will work with me to to preserve the Great Lakes and ensure this source of safe drinking water is safeguarded for future generations.

    [[Page S1860]] Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 571 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Great Lakes Water Protection Act''.


    Section 402 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1342) is amended by adding at the end the following: ``(s) Prohibition on Sewage Dumping Into the Great Lakes.-- ``(1) Definitions.--In this subsection: ``(A) Bypass.--The term `bypass' means an intentional diversion of waste streams to bypass any portion of a treatment facility which results in a discharge into the Great Lakes.

    ``(B) Discharge.-- ``(i) In general.--The term `discharge' means a direct or indirect discharge of untreated sewage or partially treated sewage from a treatment works into the Great Lakes.

    ``(ii) Inclusions.--The term `discharge' includes a bypass and a combined sewer overflow.

    ``(C) Great lakes.--The term `Great Lakes' has the meaning given the term in section 118(a)(3).

    ``(D) Partially treated sewage.--The term `partially treated sewage' means any sewage, sewage and storm water, or sewage and wastewater, from domestic or industrial sources that-- ``(i) is not treated to national secondary treatment standards for wastewater; or ``(ii) is treated to a level less than the level required by the applicable national pollutant discharge elimination system permit.

    ``(E) Treatment facility.--The term `treatment facility' includes all wastewater treatment units used by a publicly owned treatment works to meet secondary treatment standards or higher, as required to attain water quality standards, under any operating conditions.

    ``(F) Treatment works.--The term `treatment works' has the meaning given the term in section 212.

    ``(2) Prohibition.--A publicly owned treatment works is prohibited from performing a bypass unless-- ``(A)(i) the bypass is unavoidable to prevent loss of life, personal injury, or severe property damage; ``(ii) there is not a feasible alternative to the bypass, such as the use of auxiliary treatment facilities, retention of untreated wastes, or maintenance during normal periods of equipment downtime; and ``(iii) the treatment works provides notice of the bypass in accordance with this subsection; or ``(B) the bypass does not cause effluent limitations to be exceeded, and the bypass is for essential maintenance to ensure efficient operation of the treatment facility.

    ``(3) Limitation.--The requirement of paragraph (2)(A)(ii) is not satisfied if-- ``(A) adequate back-up equipment should have been installed in the exercise of reasonable engineering judgment to prevent the bypass; and ``(B) the bypass occurred during normal periods of equipment downtime or preventive maintenance.

    ``(4) Immediate notice requirements.-- ``(A) In general.--A publicly owned treatment works shall provide to the entities described in subparagraph (B)-- ``(i) for any anticipated discharge, prior notice of that discharge; and ``(ii) for any unanticipated discharge, as soon as practicable, but not later than-- ``(I) for a treatment works with an automated detection system, 2 hours after the discharge begins; and ``(II) for a treatment works without an automated detection system, 12 hours after the discharge begins.

    ``(B) Notice.--The entities referred to in subparagraph (A) are-- ``(i) the Administrator or, in the case of a State that has a permit program approved under this section, the State; ``(ii) each local health department or, if a local health department does not exist, the State health department; ``(iii) the municipality in which the discharge occurred and each municipality with jurisdiction over waters that may be affected by the discharge; ``(iv) a daily newspaper of general circulation in each county in which a municipality described in clause (iii) is located; and ``(v) the general public through a prominent announcement on a publicly accessible Internet site of the treatment works.

    ``(C) Contents.--The notice under subparagraph (A) shall include a description of-- ``(i) the volume and state of treatment of the discharge; ``(ii) the date and time of the discharge; ``(iii) the expected duration of the discharge; ``(iv) the steps being taken to contain the discharge, except for a discharge that is a wet weather combined sewer overflow discharge; ``(v) the location of the discharge, with the maximum level of specificity practicable; and ``(vi) the cause for the discharge.

    ``(5) Follow-up notice requirements.--Each publicly owned treatment works that provides notice under paragraph (4)(B) shall provide to the Administrator (or to the State in the case of a State that has a permit program approved under this section), not later than 5 days after the date on which the publicly owned treatment works provides initial notice, a follow-up notice containing-- ``(A) a more full description of the cause of the discharge; ``(B) the reason for the discharge; ``(C) the period of discharge, including the exact dates and times; ``(D) if the discharge has not been corrected, the anticipated time the discharge is expected to continue; ``(E) the volume of the discharge resulting from the bypass; ``(F) a description of any public access areas that has or may be impacted by the bypass; and ``(G) steps taken or planned to reduce, eliminate, and prevent reoccurrence of the discharge.

    ``(6) Public availability of notices.-- ``(A) In general.--Not later than 48 hours after providing or receiving a follow-up notice under paragraph (5), as applicable, a publicly owned treatment works and the Administrator (or the State, in the case of a State that has a permit program approved under this section) shall each post the follow-up notice on a publicly accessible, searchable database on the Internet.

    ``(B) Annual publication.--The Administrator (or the State, in the case of a State that has a permit program approved under this section) shall annually publish and make available to the public a list of each of the treatment works from which the Administrator or the State, as applicable, received a follow-up notice under paragraph (5).

    ``(7) Sewage blending.--Bypasses prohibited by this section include bypasses resulting in discharges from a publicly owned treatment works that consist of effluent routed around treatment units and thereafter blended together with effluent from treatment units prior to discharge.

    ``(8) Implementation.--Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Administrator shall establish procedures to ensure that permits issued under this section (or under a State permit program approved under this section) to a publicly owned treatment works include requirements to implement this subsection.

    ``(9) Increase in maximum civil penalty for violations occurring after january 1, 2033.--Notwithstanding section 309, in the case of a violation of this subsection occurring on or after January 1, 2033, or any violation of a permit limitation or condition implementing this subsection occurring after that date, the maximum civil penalty that shall be assessed for the violation shall be $100,000 per day for each day the violation occurs.

    ``(10) Applicability.--This subsection shall apply to a bypass occurring after the last day of the 1-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this subsection.''.


    (a) In General.--Title V of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) is amended-- (1) by redesignating section 519 (33 U.S.C. 1251 note) as section 520; and (2) by inserting after section 518 (33 U.S.C. 1377) the following: ``SEC. 519. ESTABLISHMENT OF GREAT LAKES CLEANUP FUND.

    ``(a) Definitions.--In this section: ``(1) Fund.--The term `Fund' means the Great Lakes Cleanup Fund established by subsection (b).

    ``(2) Great lakes; great lakes states.--The terms `Great Lakes' and `Great Lakes States' have the meanings given the terms in section 118(a)(3).

    ``(b) Establishment of Fund.--There is established in the Treasury of the United States a trust fund to be known as the `Great Lakes Cleanup Fund' (referred to in this section as the `Fund').

    ``(c) Transfers to Fund.--Effective January 1, 2033, there are authorized to be appropriated to the Fund amounts equivalent to the penalties collected for violations of section 402(s).

    ``(d) Administration of Fund.--The Administrator shall administer the Fund.

    ``(e) Use of Funds.--The Administrator shall-- ``(1) make the amounts in the Fund available to the Great Lakes States for use in carrying out programs and activities for improving wastewater discharges into the Great Lakes, including habitat protection and wetland restoration; and ``(2) allocate those amounts among the Great Lakes States based on the proportion that-- ``(A) the amount attributable to a Great Lakes State for penalties collected for violations of section 402(s); bears to ``(B) the total amount of those penalties attributable to all Great Lakes States.

    ``(f) Priority.--In selecting programs and activities to be funded using amounts made available under this section, a Great Lakes State shall give priority consideration to programs and activities that address violations of section 402(s) resulting in the collection of penalties.''.

    (b) Conforming Amendment to State Revolving Fund Program.-- Section 607 of the [[Page S1861]] Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1387) is amended-- (1) by striking ``There is'' and inserting ``(a) In General.--There is''; and (2) by adding at the end the following: ``(b) Treatment of Great Lakes Cleanup Fund.--For purposes of this title, amounts made available from the Great Lakes Cleanup Fund under section 519 shall be treated as funds authorized to be appropriated to carry out this title and as funds made available under this title, except that the funds shall be made available to the Great Lakes States in accordance with section 519.''.

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