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Fish consumption advisory bill passes committee without pollutant information

A bill requiring more outdoor signage about fish consumption advisories near fishing spots cleared a House committee on Wednesday, but not before the required posting of legal pollutants in nearby waters was removed.

An amended House Bill 297, by Rep. Craig Lipscomb, R-Gadsden, was approved in the House Ports, Waterways and Intermodal Transit Committee. It would require more advisory information from the Alabama Department of Public Health and Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

It requires the departments to conduct regular fish tissue monitoring to evaluate safe consumption levels of fish species.

The bill was amended in committee to require less information on the signage in order to decrease the cost to the agencies. People instead would be directed to a website for more information.

As originally written, the bill required industries to post signage “within a reasonable distance from each discharge point identifying the pollution outfall into the receiving state waters.”

Lipscomb on Thursday said the bill was amended because the original language, including about posting discharge information, was too broad. It could be brought back next year, he said.

“We’re going to have to sit down with all the parties and figure out a reasonable solution,” he said. As amended, Lipscomb on Thursday said the bill still gives Alabamians more and instant information about the fish they’re consuming and the quality of water.

The Alabama River Alliance, a network of groups working to protect and restore state waterways, is advocating for the bill. 

A Senate version of the bill, SB105 by Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham, has been assigned to that chamber’s Health Care Committee.

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