Sewage Pollution Still Fouling Waterways As Clean Water Act Turns 40Huffington PostBROOKLYN, N.Y. -- With each steady stroke, John Lipscomb inched the canoe deeper into an infamous urban waterway.
"If people knew of the massive quantities of untreated sewage going into our waterbodies, I think they would be surprised," said Judith Enck, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency region that includes New York. "I think most people around the country don't realize how serious this problem is. By definition it's underground, so they don't see it."
Of course, many people have seen, smelled or even felt its effects. Every year, 1.8 million to 3.5 million Americans get sick after contact with recreational waters polluted by sewage, according to the EPA. Children are particularly vulnerable to contamination often undetectable by sight or smell. And while the most common ailments are gastrointestinal, the risks don't end there.