ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — 50 years ago the Federal Clean Water Act was passed with the goal of making all of America’s waterways clean. The U.S Supreme court is set to consider a case on October 3 that could dramatically restrict the scope of the Clean Water Act.

According to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center, industrial facilities dumped more than 3.7 million pounds of toxic chemicals into New York’s waterways in 2020. Anheuser-Busch’s facility is said to rank first in the state for overall toxic chemicals released.

Advocate with Environment America Research & Policy Center David Masur commented on this issue, “New Yorkers need and deserve clean waterways for swimming, fishing, providing drinking water and supporting wildlife,” “But all too often, polluters use our rivers, lakes and streams as open sewers with no repercussions. As the Clean Water Act turns 50, it’s time to stop this toxic dumping.”  

The Environment America Research & Policy Center’s report is based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2020. Industrial facilities self-report to the TRI how much toxic material they release into surface waters. Major findings of the report include the following:

  • Anheuser-Busch’s facility outside of Syracuse in Baldwinsville, New York released 1,151,719 pounds of toxins into the state’s waterways–the highest volume from any single facility in New York. This led to the Oswego River’s watershed ranking 48th nationwide for total chemical releases received in 2020. 
  • International Paper’s facility in Ticonderoga, New York ranked highest in the state for “toxicity-weighted” chemicals released in 2020. Since some chemicals pose more risk to human health than others, EPA applies a tool to measure relative toxicity.  International Paper’s releases were into the Lake Champlain watershed, in the Adirondacks region.   
  • Two New York state waterways made the nation’s top 20 list for specific emission categories, with  Lake Champlain ranking 19th for all watersheds across the U.S. for cancer-causing toxic chemical releases, and the Sandy Hook-Staten Island watershed receiving the 15th highest overall volume of toxic chemical emissions received for any watershed in the nation.
  • The Lower Genesee River ranked 41st in the U.S. for receiving developmental toxins, with 17,887 pounds reported by industrial facilities in the watershed, while the Hudson-Hoosic watershed ranked 47th nationwide for developmental toxins, with 15,094 pounds. 

The upcoming U.S Supreme Court case could limit the number of waterways protected by the Clean Water Act. The Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Wasting Our Waterways report details what industries can do in order to decrease toxic pollution such as switching to safer alternatives.