From the Huffington Post:
CSO's are the single biggest source of pathogens for many urban bodies of water. The warning bells about sewers and the insufficient infrastructure have been ringing for decades. Though not the best for holiday table talk, it is critical that there is more discussion about new solutions in order to avoid the continuing circular logic of our current ones. Only by seriously looking at new paradigms (or spending billions and billions more on construction than we need to) can this stinky problem be solved.
Too much weight is currently put on the need for more "infrastructure," meaning more pipes, more engineering, more disruption, more trying to control the flow, especially when it combines with rain. (It is as futile a solution as holding back the waters of Lake Ponchartrain during a major hurricane.) These "end of pipe solutions" represent the traditional approach to solving a problem caused by too many people paving over too many acres.
So what can better solve the problem with our sewers? The most obvious -- and most affordable--solution is bringing vegetation back into the cities that paved over green space to get there. Green roofs can dramatically reduce runoff and sewage overflows. Green roofs--roofs covered with living plants, which are, by the way, beautiful -- as opposed to ones made of tar or other impervious materials, absorb water and are a less expensive way to capture water than trying to control it through end-of-pipe ideas. Nature becomes a bigger player, acting as the engineer. Building owners benefit and so do municipalities who have to spend much less on controlling their storm water.
New York City talked a good game about green roofs but decided to spend its millions of dollars of our federal storm water stimulus money on traditional structures -- building more man-made holding tanks -- instead of looking at what is really the cause: lack of vegetation. Isn't that what got New York, Miami, Los Angeles (and countless other major cities) into trouble in the first place?
Photo by Miss Heather