Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stunning Fact: 247,000 Water & Sewer Main Breaks Discharge Billions of Gallons of Raw Sewage Each Year

What are America's and Pennsylvania's biggest water polluters?  Near the top are sewer systems that are supposed to treat safely sewage but often do not, as a result of aging and inadequate infrastructure..

The Miami Herald published a great piece just looking at the massive raw sewage leaking from aging pipes in the Miami area.  It reports that 47 million gallons of raw sewage in two years were dumped into local waters and that nationally there are 247,000 water and sewer main breaks every year.

Leaking pipes release raw sewage all day and all year.  But, in many communities, the sewer system is designed and sized in a manner that it is simply not big enough to handle large volumes of water when it rains hard. The result is that huge amounts of raw sewage overflow into rivers like the Hudson, Delaware, Susquehanna, and many more.

The damage done to waters just by raw sewage dwarfs all the water impacts from gas drilling across the entire country.  That is not to excuse gas drilling impacts or to say work to limit gas drilling impacts is unimportant.  Minimizing gas drilling impacts through strong regulation and excellent operations is vital.

But much more attention should be placed on the most serious impacts to water like the damage done by raw sewage. Environmental groups also have a special responsibility to educate the public about what are the most significant sources of pollution to everyone's local waters.  It nearly all cases gas drilling will not be on the list of top water polluters.

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