BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Reports of raw sewage spills in our state are growing with just two more reported Tuesday.
A group of water protection groups have released an interactive map showing a number of spills in 2016 throughout central Alabama. Those spills were reported to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
They are calling on the state to step up its notification efforts.
"Lots of citizens in Alabama swim, fish and paddle in all types of different waterways and we think it's extremely important when we know that there's an overflow that people get notice about it, so they can take precautions and swim places where its likely to be safe," David Butler, Cahaba Riverkeeper said.
Butler says between 28 and 46 million gallons of sewage overflows were reported in 2016 not including the number of reported spills that did not include a volume estimate.
Butler says the map points to the increased need for better public notification requirements. At least nine conservation groups are petitioning the state to put new regulations in place. We're told right now wastewater treatment plants are legally required to notify the public immediately of sewage spills, but there are no regulations which specify a time, plan or minimum level of notification.
You can take a look at the map of spills here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=13Tkp7AwkXJ2Js4Rm7Ne7LFQeSHg&ll=33.5013625232047%2C-86.70789518356389&z=11
"It's not realistic to think those overflows will never occur. So all that we're asking is that when they do occur that there be a robust, mandatory system of notification so that when people are swimming or fishing that know what their getting into," Butler added.
ADEM says its received the petition and is still formulating its position on the issue. ADEM says it must get that position statement to the state's environmental management commission prior to its April 21st meeting. A lot of the water protection groups plan to show up and voice their concerns at that meeting.