Monday, June 30, 2008

Florida's Toilet

I subscribe to Brown & Caldwell's Water List, which is a weekly update of all things Florida water-related. I learn a lot from this free service. Today's most interesting (and disturbing) read: "Florida's Toilet," a new report by the Clean Water Network of Florida, that scarily details, as the subtitle promises, "How sewage discharges are fouling Florida’s Gulf of Mexico tributaries, estuaries and coastal waters." I highly recommend anyone who cares about Florida at least skim this report.

Here are some choice excerpts:

"The public assumption is that raw sewage is piped to a wastewater treatment plant, and all of its contaminants removed by treatment technology. The reality is that most of Florida’s sewage collection and treatment systems either do not treat wastewater to a high enough standard in the first place, or because of accidents, poor maintenance, or overloaded systems, they allow a large number of bacteria, toxins, nutrients and other contaminants to enter the environment.
Septic tanks, which are increasing in use, instead of decreasing every year in Florida, hardly treat the sewage at all. Secondary treatment does not remove all the excess nutrients, pathogens and toxins. And all the systems that handle human sewage, especially the older ones, are plagued with mechanical failures, leaking pipes, and other problems that cause contaminated wastewater to be released directly into the environment on a frequent basis. The chances of a system owner getting fined or other enforcement penalties for these spills are slim to none.
[Besides coming out of butts and smelling terrible,] Sewage is not a minor risk; it is highly toxic. In addition to excess nutrients, it may contain a host of pathogens, including bacteria that cause dysentery and cholera; viruses that cause hepatitis; disease-causing protozoan such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia; and intestinal worms. Sewage also contains a chemical laboratory full of toxins, either originally in the sewage itself, such as those ingested in pharmaceuticals, or a byproduct of the treatment process, such as chlorine compounds. While treatment may remove most of these hazards, many may survive secondary systems or accidental releases."

We're literally s___ting where we eat (and swim, and drink, and fish ...)! Even small children know this is a bad idea! What is wrong with us?!

The bracketed text above is my addition.

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