Some cities’ drains do things we’d rather not talk about
I’m happy to acknowledge this small metal sign that my city epoxied to the curb above the street drain in front of my house. It tells me – and everyone in our neighborhood – that anything dumped here is part of a closed system. Water, chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, lawn care products, detergents from car wash . . . all of it drains to the watershed.
And that’s not the only thing . . .
There are some cities that do not separate sewer from storm water; it’s called a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). Under usual conditions, runoff goes into the sewer system that flows to the treatment facilities. This works OK when the city is small and there’s no rain, but it rains a bit in the Pacific Northwest.
As Portland grew and when storms came calling, the runoff overwhelmed the CSO system, with the overflow running directly into the streams and the Willamette River.
Fortunately, Portland started working on this in 1991 and it’s finally done – Portland’s Big Pipe will help. That little metal sign is all part of that grand vision from two decades ago.
I love that little sign.
- Saving Puget Sound: the battle between good intentions and science (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Last sewer-outflow pollution worth $1B to stop? (seattletimes.nwsource.com)