Toxins including dangerous bacteria can enter into a community’s water supply in many ways. Along Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, chronic sewage overflow has created dangerous conditions for potential water contamination. As damage to the river continues, residents in nearby communities wait for local government to properly address the ongoing problem.
Recent records indicate the amount of released sewage-infused storm water is increasing rapidly. During excessive periods of rain, stormwater mixed with sewage is released much more quickly into the Susquehanna River. In 2016, nearly 790 million gallons of wastewater was released into the river. This chronic discharge of human waste and stormwater reached almost 1.4 billion gallons last year.
Local water quality tests revealed extremely high levels of the dangerous E.coli bacteria along the Harrisburg waterfront. Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper data showed bacteria levels three times the levels needed for safe swimming or other water recreation activities. In other places, including on City Island Park beach, the levels were ten times higher than those considered “safe”. The bacteria problem may have larger ramifications as the Susquehanna River also provides the largest source of water into the Chesapeake Bay.
With such high levels of fecal bacteria, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have banned the public’s use of the Harrisburg waterfront for water activities including boating, fishing, and swimming.
Harrisburg’s outdated and malfunctioning sewage and stormwater release system has been blamed for the increase in unsafe bacteria levels in the water. Underlying plumbing problems including an old sewage pumping station and lack of underground storage tunnels to temporarily hold waste during storms before treatment contribute to the ongoing problem. Environmental advocates have criticized the government for failing to penalize over 75 percent of the water authority’s self-reported sewage discharge violations.
Despite a 2015 Consent Agree between the EPA, DEP and the Harrisburg Capital Regional Water Authority meant to regulate the releases of sewage-filled stormwater into the Susquehanna River, the city is under no set deadline to stop the dumping or close any stormwater outfalls.
Individuals exposed to toxic discharges can experience serious and lifelong medical conditions. Victims of toxic exposure often spend thousands of dollars on medical expenses including physician and hospital fees, physical or occupational therapy co-pays, and prescription drug costs. The costs of medical treatment for these chronic illnesses can financially devastate families.
Victims of toxic exposure can hold the manufacturers, distributors, marketers, and sellers of companies polluting the environment with dangerous toxins, including government entities, legally responsible for their actions. By filing a civil lawsuit against the government or private parties, many individuals are able to recover the costs for medical treatment, lost wages, and damages for their pain and suffering. To determine if you have a claim for toxic exposure, consult an experienced Philadelphia environmental lawyer at Williams Cedar.
If you or a loved one is experiencing medical complications after being exposed to or drinking contaminated water, compensation may be available. At Williams Cedar, our experienced attorneys work on behalf of individuals and families throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey to serve clients harmed by contaminated water supplies. To schedule a free confidential consultation with an experienced Philadelphia environmental lawyer today, call us at 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777 or contact us online.