MAYVILLE, NY – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) was joined by members of local Chautauqua Lake community advocacy groups announce new legislation he is sponsoring in the United States House of Representatives aimed at preventing phosphorus contamination from household dishwashing detergents in the nation’s fresh water sources.
“This is an easy and responsible step that the soap industry and Americans, as environmentally educated consumers, can take to keep public waterways, like Chautauqua Lake, safe, clean and pleasant to enjoy,” said Congressman Higgins.
On August 2, 2007 Congressman Higgins introduced H.R. 3331, a bill to prohibit as a banned hazardous substance, certain household dishwashing detergent containing phosphorus. When discharged into waterways phosphorus causes excessive growth of weeds and algae which rob the water of oxygen that fish need to survive, limit recreational use of waterways and create foul odors.
“We applaud Congressman Higgins’ proposed legislation to ban phosphorus from automatic dishwashing detergents as a cost-effective means of removing one source of this most troublesome plant nutrient from the wastewater streams entering our lakes and other waterways, said John Jablonski III, Executive Director of the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Conservancy. “This summer, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy Lake Restoration Action Team has been educating lake residents to choose phosphate-free automatic dishwashing detergents by making presentations and distributing product samples to various neighborhood associations around Chautauqua Lake. Over one-thousand samples have been distributed by the CWC. We have discussed banning automatic dishwashing detergents with some County Legislators as a potential next step. As a limiting nutrient in lakes, one pound of phosphorus can grow up to 1,100 pounds of algae. It takes only relatively small amounts of this nutrient to grow tons of algae and plants. We appreciate Congressman Higgins’ work to address the over-fertilization of our waterways at the national level.”
Currently over 30 percent of the U.S. population lives in areas with a ban on detergents containing phosphorus. Several states, including Washington, Maryland, Vermont, Minnesota and Illinois have enacted local legislation which either bans or allows only trace amounts of phosphorus in dishwashing soap.
Many popular name brand powder and liquid dishwasher detergents contain between 6.4% and 1.6% phosphates. In March of 2005 Consumer Reports Magazine rated 20 dishwasher detergents and ranked several zero-phosphate detergents among the top performers.