Editorials

When it’s not mud turning the Mississippi brown

Raw sewage, storm water pumped into Mississippi River

Each day, about 2 million gallons of raw sewage and storm water are being pumped into the Mississippi River because of a sewer main break. The sewage is upstream from the area's main drinking water intake.
Up Next
Each day, about 2 million gallons of raw sewage and storm water are being pumped into the Mississippi River because of a sewer main break. The sewage is upstream from the area's main drinking water intake.

There’s an old saying: Dilution is the solution to pollution.

What’s 2 million gallons of sewage and storm water a day on the St. Louis riverfront when millions of gallons of water flow past the Gateway Arch every minute? Well since a Metro East Sanitary District sewer main broke on May 9 in Madison, about 153 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of the nasty stuff have been added to the Mississippi River.

That’s even a drop in the river, considering the equivalent of 1.3 million swimming pools of untreated waste water go into U.S. rivers every year.

Nobody drinks river water. Drinking water is all treated, right?

Except that an estimated 3.5 million of us get sick each year from coming in contact with U.S. river and lake water. Salmonella, hepatitis, dysentary, cryptosporidium and other nasties are floating around us, not to mention our old nemeses cholera and polio.

The rain water flushing through our sewers also contains oil that drips from cars and washes off roads into sewers. Add the household chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and trash you would never touch on the side of those roads and the brew just gets more appealing.

Madison may have had limited choices when their sewer main broke so close to a levee when the Mississippi was high, but you have to question whether dumping it all in the river was the best solution for this pollution.

  Comments