Inside America's Sewage System

Julie Grant of WKSU in Kent, Ohio, goes underground to find out what's wrong with our nation’s sewage systems and discover the rising costs of urban sewage system management.

"Although we don't pay them much attention, when sewer systems fail the consequences are far worse than the smell might indicate.... Out of sight, out of mind might work for many things, but not the nation's aging sewer systems. They weren't built to handle the amount of sewage and storm water that's going in them. Too often raw waste winds up in lakes and rivers, and sometimes in the water we drink. The federal government has a loan program to help local municipalities clean up their act, but now the Bush administration wants to trim the funds."

"...We touch down about 240 feet underground and stand in a concrete chamber. This is where two tunnels, each 20 feet wide, join together. We're wearing rubber boots. There's a few inches of flowing sewage at our feet. It's headed two and a half miles downstream to a wastewater treatment plant. Greenland says the new sewers are so big because they do more than just transport: they also provide a million gallons of storage."

[Editor's note: The transcript of this article is available, as well as streaming audio in multiple formats.]

Thanks to Ashwani Vasishth

Full Story: Problems Underground

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