Raw sewage is being dumped out of broken pieces of almost 1 million miles of sewer pipes in this country, most installed 60 years ago in the great post-war building boom. We might expect more than 70,000 sewage spills per year.
It’s not just a burden on old cities. Los Angeles owns one of the leakiest systems in America, averaging “one spill a day”.
Many of the more popular beaches in Southern California are polluted with sewage as often as one out of every three days. Monitored with obsolete methods and outdated science, data shows 10% of our beachwater can make us sick. Beaches across the country were closed 20,000 times in 2005.
A recent UCLA and Stanford study says water polluted with sewage sickens 1.5 million people a year in Southern California alone.
America has bloated the national output of fast food and restaurant grease to three billion pounds a year causing ‘fat infarctions’ to plug pipes and divert sewage.
There is a looming $300 billion to $500 billion cost to fix our bursting sewer pipes. Some say, this will require more than a 10% rate increase to cover $10,000 to $25,000 costs per household. Local governments are already raising taxes.
But wait. The country’s water system — much of it installed during the early 1900s — is crumbling, too. Another $250 billion.
The Clean Water Act was signed into law in 1965 to restore and maintain the integrity of America’s water infrastructure, but money seems to have been somewhat diverted. The Bush Administration proposes dramatic cuts to clean water funding. The yet to be confirmed Clean Water Trust Act, a deficit funded drop in the bucket, might provide $7.5 billion annually over two decades to repair or replace leaky, outmoded systems around the country.
With a Sausalito, California partner, for over 10 years we’ve been promoting a method of drying sewage sludge that would then be used as a fuel to convert sewage plants into power plants!! Yes, dried sludge burns.
The cost savings and revenue could truly help local governments and community waste systems. Removing sludge from downstream management saves plenty of money as well.
Managers of the development company seem to have squandered their opportunity, but we’re hoping a new team will bring it back.