Infrastructure? Who Needs It?

Warning: this is a very disgusting story

According to Climate Central, over 10 billion gallons of sewage spewed into waterways and streets during and after Hurricane Sandy.

Over 10 billion gallons of raw and partly treated sewage gushed into waterways and bubbled up onto streets and into homes as a result of Hurricane Sandy — enough to cover Central Park in a 41-foot-high pile of sludge, a nonprofit research group said in a report released on Tuesday. [...]

The Climate Central report, which is accompanied by an interactive map, found that about one-third of the overflow — nearly 3.45 billion gallons — was untreated sewage. The rest was partly treated, meaning it was filtered to some extent and was perhaps chlorinated.

In New York, the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant on Long Island was probably the hardest hit, according to the report. As much as 2.2 billion gallons of partly treated sewage poured into the Rockaway Channel until the plant was fully brought online nearly two months after the late-October storm, the report said. Over a billion gallons of untreated sewage flowed into the Hudson River from the Yonkers Joint Wastewater Treatment plant, in Westchester County.

Obviously monster storms like Hurricane Sandy aren’t an everyday occurrence, but rising water levels combined with more powerful storms brought about by climate change could certainly increase their frequency. And it may not even require a hurricane to cause similar incidents in the future. A powerful Nor’Easter combined with rising tides could overwhelm our flagging system of infrastructure.

Alyson Kenward, the principal author of the report, said in a teleconference that rising seas and strengthening storms, a result of climate change, could increase the threat of similar spills in the future. She urged an overhaul of the region’s wastewater infrastructure.

“Our sewage infrastructure isn’t designed to handle this type of storm surge,” Dr. Kenward said. [...]

Any changes will be extremely expensive, and with sea levels rising and weather patterns changing, it is unclear what can be done to eliminate the dangers, Dr. Kenward said.

Sweet dreams. Hurricane season begins June 1st.

  • http://twitter.com/tlavely Tony Lavely

    Don’t forget, WE define Hurricane season, not nature.

    Just sayin’.

  • http://twitter.com/bubblegenius Bubble Genius

    I just saw a news story about a dog released from quarantine after Sandy, and I was wondering if it was because of sewage contamination. I suppose it was. That is super duper dangerous, a HazMat situation.

  • D_C_Wilson

    What’s the big deal? All New York has to do is follow North Carolina’s lead and make it illegal for the sea to rise. Problem solved.