"Sewers at Capacity, Waste Poisons Waterways"

The Harlem River, on the east side of Manhattan, often receives sewage overflows during rain storms.  Viewed from a kayak.

On Monday, there was an important article in the NY Times about water pollution from sewage overflows. Although the focus was on New York and  the national scene, there were some tidbits of relevance to Madison:

As global warming increases the severity of storms, and as urban areas grow, stormwater problems are going to become more serious everywhere.  It's policy in Madison to increase density in neighborhoods.  That means we have to improve absorption of rainwater into the ground, just to keep up with the growth.

"Philadelphia has announced it will spend $1.6 billion over 20 years to build rain gardens and sidewalks of porous pavement and to plant thousands of trees."  Why trees?  These and other plants pull moisture out of the soil and put it back in the air, thereby reducing the load on stormwater systems.

A report in Science this week says that, more and more, we have to pay attention to what is going on under the ground, in terms of water quality and polllution movement.  The more crowded the planet, the more critical the underground resource becomes.   Because changes are slower underground, and because what happens there is invisible, we have to be vigilant--or we'll degrade our living "basement" before we know it.

In summary, rain gardens are a growing trend, nationwide.  Our little stream in Sunset Village can become an aid for teaching children about groundwater resources.  We could drill shallow wells to show schoolchildren our progress in recharging the groundwater.  Let's show them--there's more to water than turning on the tap.
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Link to report about sewage overflows in Wisconsin.  You can use this as a primer about sewer construction and issues.

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