In some areas, the idea that wastewater from the toilet is being consumed and re-used to drink or bathe in is enough to revolt most people. As gross as it may seem, that’s nothing compared to what was is being reported in the Philly Inquirer.
Joe Ferretti, a supervisor in the Philadelphia Water Department opened up a manhole cover beside Schuylkill River bank and “saw evidence that sewage was flowing freely into the river at a stone outfall known as S050204.” In the “City of Brotherly Love,” brothers are sharing “human waste, shower water, dirty dish grease, and other stuff that belongs in the sanitary sewer system” because this waste is “going down the wrong pipe.”
Delaware River waterways are the Pennsylvania city’s main source for drinking water and they are being swamped in some of the most unmentionable water that one can think of from places best left unthought of.
How “cross-connections,” pipes that are mixed up, can even be allowed to happen should be the first question addressed, yet it hardly is. At the water department, there really are people so ill-equipped for the job that they allow “100,000 gallons” of wastewater to go into the drinking supply each year.
Crews conducted a tireless search, the Inquirer says “literally using their noses” and found the street that was causing the problem (this time). Finding which house (or number of houses) can be a real problem, in and of itself, however.
“You got debris, you got a flow there,” Ferretti said as he looked into one manhole. “It doesn’t seem like much but there should be no flow at all. Sometimes you’ll see [toilet] paper, feces — all kind of stuff.”
Keep in mind, this is what people are washing their hands and preparing their food in.
The city has not spent the proper money to have the new state of the art systems put in, that is the bottom line. There are two different systems for waste management for the city and 1941 technology is considered “newer” of the pair.
The “older one is a combined system where stormwater and sanitary waste flow together in a pipe to one of the city’s three wastewater treatment plants.” When it rains hard, the systems get overworked and crossover happens. Again, rather than updating the entire guts of the whole water system(s), those who manage the budgets have misused the money and have allowed the people to consume waste as a result.
It is not just the system which is failing, though. People fixing and repairing things, and even those just adding bathrooms, can sometimes “cut off the first pipe that they see,” and this can lead to such errors happening, as well.
Homeowners, who would be billed for these mistakes, will sometimes hide problems to avoid needlessly high costs. Yet, this can also be a problem attributed to Philadelphia, since gouging is causing a problem with sanitation.
The city claims to be doing their best to combat the problem, but in the mean time, users will be bathing and drinking the contaminated water.
Not to mention, the city’s track record doesn’t lend itself to anyone thinking that the foul problems will be solved soon.
It is the kind of leadership that leaves a really bad taste in one’s mouth.