Monday, February 25, 2008

Open Sewer


Starting this spring, scientists will commence a study of bio-diversity and health in the Allegheny River. Cheers, sez this humble writer.

The Allegheny's biggest polluter isn't that generic sociopathic capitalist cursed by the POGgers over Old Germans at Gooskis. Nope, biggest criminal in the set is your local sanitation authority. During heavy rains, the City of Pittsburgh and small mom-and-pop sewer shops in Allegheny River towns flush your toilet straight into the drink, giving our rivers the distinctive color of a Starbucks Mocha Latte. We swim in it, fish in it, boat in it and drink from it. The left overs flow dahn the Ohio to St. Louis, where it's bottled as Budweiser Select. (rim shot!)

Over the past century of sewerage treatment, society has expanded its definition of acceptable treatment. Unfortunately, the same 120 year old sewer lines carry shit and storm from Victorian towns and city neighborhoods to aging '50s era treatment facilities. Sadly, not only are underground infrastructure and sediment tanks aren't the prize photo-op ribbon cutting for our myopic politicians, they're fantastically expensive. Absent Cholera or some other preventable water-borne illness, politicians facing criticism over the incredible cost of any such functional yet invisible project would much rather invest in a hockey arena while we plebs splash our summers away in our own filth.

Hopefully this study will commence a serious discussion about our sewer and water problems; and yes, spur investment in our deteriorating infrastructure. And no, we won't be able to chalk this up as an economic bonanza. Its just a necessity.

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