Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Storm Purges

Photo by Magnus Franklin
It's been four years since Superstorm Sandy poured down on the northeastern U.S.  Now, major hurricanes simultaneously threaten to cause disasters in both hemispheres. Despite Matthew's menacing track forecast, there is a good chance it will stay out at sea. Either way, it looks like much of the east coast is in for a deluge. One of the greatest impacts caused by Sandy and many other extreme rain events is one we seem to forget too quickly afterwards - overflowing of sewage treatment plants. The cumulative result,  in connection with Superstorm Sandy, was discharge of some 11 billion gallons of raw sewage to our environment. While 7 million gallons is enough to push me to take desperate measures, billions of gallons may drive me to despair.

Our wastewater treatment infrastructure, like so much else in our country, has not been maintained or renewed enough to keep pace with a growing population. Add to that the stress of climate change, and there is bound to be an increase in failures. Rising sea levels, even from a storm surge, is particularly culpable.

Inundation also affects septic systems by raising the water table well inland from the shore, causing degradation of septic system performance - all the more reason to transition to humanure composting in lieu of sewage and septic solutions. Septic systems, for various reasons, pollute proportionally more than sewage overflow incidents, but for my money, humanure composting is better than either.

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