A main goal of this blog is to help its readers prioritize the biggest threats to water quality and to understand that, though gas drilling impacts are real, they are well down the list of the most serious causes of pollution of Pennsylvania's waters. A must read is yesterday's Pittsburgh Post Gazette front page story about the massive amounts of sewer overflows that reach rivers in the Pittsburgh region multiple times each year.
The annual volume of untreated sewage reaching rivers and streams is reported as 9 billion gallons per year and occurs in 30 to 70 storms annually, according to the Post Gazette. And the bill for stopping this pollution and cleaning up is a staggering $2.8 billion.
To make matters worse, the same problem of untreated sewage flowing into rivers and streams that the Pittsburgh region is confronting is found in many communities across Pennsylvania as well as in New York and other states. While America's sewage overflow problem dwarfs the impacts of gas drilling on water quality, it normally attracts little media attention or sustained public concern. There are no Hollywood stars campaigning to stop these huge amounts of sewage from going into rivers. There are no HBO movies on the problem.
Normally, this huge source of pollution that threatens public health and safety is ignored or draws a yawn.
Congratulations to the Post Gazette for not yawning and for prominently and regularly reporting on its region's struggle with sewer overflows. Such reporting is vital for readers to understand what are the top impacts on water and what are not.