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Environmental Groups Urge Greater Protection For Local Waterways

The Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. (Credit: John Ostapkovich)

The Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. (Credit: John Ostapkovich)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS ) — A coalition of environmental groups is urging greater protection for local waterways.

David Masur of Penn Environment stood on the banks of the Schuylkill River, near boathouse row, one day last week — overlooking a waterfall — a scenic spot to deliver a grim message.

“Polluters dumped more than 2.3 million pounds of toxic chemicals, making this watershed the 17th most polluted local watershed in America.”

The Delaware River ranked even higher with 12.5 million pounds of toxic releases.

Masur’s figures came from the polluters themselves in reports they file with the federal government under the Clean Water Act. The Act, he noted, was designed to eventually reduce pollutants, but 40 years later, he says, chemicals pour into rivers and streams and polluters are trying to chip away at the Act through the courts. He says he hopes to get a grass roots counter-balance, demanding clean water.

“If state regulators set up a timeline to ratchet down those emissions, come up with safer alternatives, we would see these numbers drop.”

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