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New York should act to protect waterways

The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to clarify protection for the upstream waters vital to downstream communities. Proposed changes are to restore the streams and feeders critical to the health of New York State’s waterways to what they once were.

Recently, an upstream farm’s liquid manure traveled down the Tonawanda stream, turning it brown. In the past, my husband, after tracking down the source, would go to the owner to make him aware of this situation before reporting the next spill to the Department of Environmental Conservation. Regrettably for our family, this practice no longer works as the main pollutant of our section of the stream is not considered in “navigational waters.”

The Tonawanda stream flows continuously from our property all the way to Lake Erie. Our area of stream was once considered “impaired.” The “impaired” designation disappears as the stream makes it way to a monitoring station miles away. The next testing is scheduled for 2015. So pollutants are not under any jurisdiction for the safety to our family. For more than 10 years, chemicals, creosol, oil, molasses, diesel fuel, phosphate, nitrates, herbicides and so on have gone into our stretch of the Tonawanda stream to be diluted with other streams and feeders.

The Clean Water regulations must be expanded. Our family used to have clean water to drink from our well and clean fresh water for our livestock. We used to be able to fish in our section of Tonawanda that’s stocked every year. The ever-growing chemical business even changed the course of the stream for its convenience.

Saving the state’s waterways is a very important issue for everyone. Please call the EPA administrator to show your support to protect our good waterways not protected under the “navigational waters” definition. Water is life for us all.

Linda A. George, R.N.

North Java