The DEC says that 57 million gallons of sewage goes into our local waterways, such as Lake Erie and Hoyt Lake, over a 25-month period. 58 percent of all reported sewage overflows in the state come from Erie County alone. Senate candidate Amber Small says one of the ways to fix this is by establishing municipal bonds for communities to improve their infrastructure.
"These are vital services," said Small. "It's not like your cable goes out... if you lose access to water, your health is compromised."
Many of the contaminated bodies of water are primary sources of drinking water in Western New York. Fixing them could come at a cost.
"The New York State comptroller has estimated that it will cost $20 billion over the next 20 years to upgrade our sewer systems," said Small.
Senator Marc Panepinto, who holds the seat that Small is running for, says it's important the state commits resources to fix aging sewer lines soon.
"People don't realize that the Great Lakes represent 20 percent of the fresh water in the entire world," said Panepinto. "They would kill to have the access to fresh water that we have."
He added that this could become an even bigger problem if we don't fix it soon.
"I represent 47 miles of waterfront," said Panepinto. "When our greatest resource is the river and the lake, we need to make sure that we're not pumping in raw sewage into it."