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Letter: Build drug disposal system to protect local waterways

Build drug disposal system to protect local waterways

The Erie County Pharmaceutical Water Pollution Act has been stuck in committee for over a year without even the opportunity for public discussion. The bill is designed to help reduce the amount of trace pharmaceuticals in local waterways by building a robust drug disposal system. Even better for Erie County taxpayers, the courts have ruled counties such as Erie have the legal right to require the pharmaceutical industry to pay for this program.

The current drug drop-off options for residents do not reach those who may live in more remote areas and add to the workload of our already overburdened police departments. In fact, the Erie County Chiefs of Police Association wrote a letter of support for my proposed law and urged its passage.

We all understand the importance of protecting our Great Lakes. I am proud of the work I have done on this front. In 2015, my bill banning plastic microbeads was approved by the Erie County Legislature. The legislation not only removed the largest plastic pollutant in our waterways but also became a catalyst for a federal microbead plastic ban. We are developing a legacy of freshwater protection, and that needs to continue.

When residents and health care facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals flush unwanted medications down the drain, they find their way into Lake Erie – a source of freshwater for more than 11 million people. Recently The News reported that traces of antidepressants have been found in fish that inhabit the Niagara River, and then wrote an editorial calling for action on eliminating pharmaceuticals in our waterways. The editorial board is correct in this call and I hope my fellow citizens will contact the members of the Republican majority in the Erie County Legislature and demand they work with me to pass this bill.

Patrick Burke

Erie County Legislator

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