Friday, September 15, 2017

"Shitstorm Irma"

Hurricane Irma will be remembered by Floridians for high winds, storm surges, flooding and widescale destruction. But what about the turds?
Pollution reports submitted to Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection show that, due to power outages and flooding caused by Irma, human waste has been spilling into streets, residences, and waterways across the entire state. At the time of this article’s publication, at least 113 “Public Notices of Pollution” had been submitted to the DEP. Combined, those discharge reports showed more than 28 million gallons of treated and untreated sewage released in 22 counties. The total amount is surely much more; at least 43 of those reports listed either an “unknown” or “ongoing” amount of waste released, and new reports continue to roll in—sometimes as many as a dozen per hour.

In other words, Irma was a literal shitstorm. But it’s no laughing matter. Sewage spills pose a major threat to public health, and they’re likely to become more common due to two increasingly connected crises facing America: an aging infrastructure and climate change.

Miami, the city’s South District Wastewater Treatment Plant reported a six-million-gallon sewage spill that reached Biscane Bay, a state aquatic preserve. While the report said the area was cleaned and disinfected, it also says the public was not notified and the sewage was not recovered. In Seminole County, north of Orlando, a sewer overflowed for six hours, spilling two million gallons. More than 300,000 gallons flowed into Stevenson Creek, which the Tampa Bay Times reports is already “one of Pinellas County’s most polluted bodies of water.” The St. John’s River in Jacksonville has seen at least 130,000 gallons of sewage released into its tributaries. And in Volusia County, which holds Daytona Beach, a two-million-gallon spill of treated sewage has seen “no cleanup efforts” so far, according to a notice.


bill said...

mound this issue is a matter of scale. my city has about twenty thousand people and our treatment is a passive series of lagoons 10 kms. on the other side of the river and the worst case scenario is that the sewage would eventually flow down into the river below which is downstream. if we had 100,000 people we would have a standard sewage plant probably next to the river as the land it is now on would be covered in houses.

if you think back 50 or better 100 years ago most farms were about 100 or so acres and the amount of manure on each one was barely enough to fertilize the fields. any storm would spread the manure pile downhill and result in bumper crops the next couple of years. contrast today where manure is a "huge problem" on factory farms producing not that many more crops than in the past even without a disaster. any storm would release incredible amounts of nutrients directly into the nearest body of water destroying it as the land cannot absorb that much at one time.

it doesn't matter if the subject is food, water, waste,pollution or any problem we face today. scale is the ultimate problem in an overcrowded world. spreading people out more evenly is only a temporary fix.

The Mound of Sound said...

I agree, Bill. My parents both came from small farms and I do recall the "honey wagon" spreader. My maternal grandparents raised a family of eight kids on a 100 acre farm in a county of similar size farms. Today most of that farmland has been consolidated to support industrial agriculture. Prime farmland that now is merely a foundation for greenhouse agriculture. Who could raise a family on such a smallholding today?

It is a matter of scale in a stubbornly finite world. You may want to look at the post "our dilemma in three graphs" to see what some believe we can become over the next 20-30 years. In my opinion it's utter madness.

If you don't mind me asking, where are you located, Bill?

bill said...

just a tad north of you in Whitehorse where I get a close first hand look at global warming at 3-4 times faster than you. btw that local newspaper article I sent you Tuesday is going to lead to major change hopefully for all of Canada. abc north ran a piece calling for our premier to man up and grow a pair and it took a couple of big dudes to break up the start of a fight in times over the subject yesterday. most people here know our politicians personally by first name because they do have to shop too, politics can get dangerous at times if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

I always readily assumed sewage and other pollutant run-off to simply be the norm in ANY kind of flooding situation.

The Mound of Sound said...

So how is that going to turn out, Bill. An open brawl tax revolt? Gutted spending? Or will the government tough it out and raise taxes?

The Mound of Sound said...

You may be right, Tal. I just never thought of it that way. I'm used to lakefront flooding that didn't overwhelm the sanitary sewage system much less the freshwater supply. I understand that part of Houston came ridiculously close to losing their clean water supply. Still I just cringe at photos of those left to wade chest deep in that stuff.

bill said...

Right now it is a Texas standoff as the premier is saying nothing. His riding is Dawson , home of mining and the miners are going nuts at the thought of paying more than a few cents royalties. the tree huggers are edging them on glee at the thought of shutting down mining.
frontline government workers who have been grumbling for years about too much management are cautiously testing the waters and all the useless managers are wetting themselves. everyone else has threatened everything short of civil war if there are any tax increases.
the panel is now going around the communities to get input and I might get off my ass to check it out if nothing else but the humour factor. my best guess is that the entrenched powers in our society will prevail when the premier chickens out and the poor will get the boot up the ass.