Sep 21, 2016

When it Rains it Pours, and Sewage Hits the Fan

Baton Rouge, LA
USA
by
Climate Central

Record rainstorms across the U.S. in the past year have continued to make national news, causing billions of dollars of flood damage and killing dozens. But what has barely made headlines are that these floods often cause massive overflows of untreated sewage into streams, rivers, bays, canals, and even streets and homes.

Climate Central has investigated the extent of these sewage overflows. In most cases, we found reports that millions of gallons of untreated sewage were released into streets and waterways. These overflows can have devastating consequences for public health and the environment: they can trigger dangerous outbreaks of waterborne diseases and are often linked to fish kills. And when sewage overflows into homes and businesses, expensive remediation and decontamination is needed to make them safe again.

Worse was the discovery that the true extent of sewage overflow is often undocumented and largely unknown.

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With a backdrop of antiquated and overpopulated sewer systems, the increase in rain and heavy downpours in recent decades — one of the ongoing impacts of climate change — continues to trigger overflows that affect millions of Americans every year