Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wet Weather Sewage Discharges

You know you've got problems when the Bush Administration facsimile of the Environmental Protection Agency has to crack down on you. (Don Hopey, P-G)

"This is the first time Allegheny County is approaching this wet weather issue and, while the estimate is $3 billion, I think the cost will go well above that," said Michelle Buys, a Health Department engineer. "This will be the biggest public works infrastructure project in the region in a long time."

Ms. Buys said the region's economic future depends on doing the sewer upgrades correctly because the federal government could stop new industrial, residential and commercial developments if the improvements don't correct the wet weather sewage discharges.

Systemwide, the discharges during the region's 75 wet weather events each year allow an estimated 16 billion gallons of untreated sewage and storm water to flow into the region's rivers, contaminating them with bacteria, pathogens and other harmful pollutants that degrade water quality, kill aquatic life and threaten public health.

The maths in this article confuse the Comet, but it appears this $3 billion figure is the bottom line (over 40 years) for getting ALCOSAN up to snuff.

Note: A billion is a thousand million.

Editorial Comment: We wonder whether UPMC executives actually flush toilets in Allegheny County, or if they only discharge rose petals?


  1. As I understand things, the $3 billion number is from an estimate that is roughly 10 years old. It's going to be one heck of a lot more than that.

    There's about 1.2 million people in Allegheny County. Let's say the final costs come in at around $5 billion. That's more than $4,000 a piece for every man, woman, and child who is here right now. Ouch.

  2. I'm so glad we're spending $7.5 million a year in casino revenues on a hockey arena.

  3. The funny thing is that on the No Impact Man blog, which is written from New York, he mentions what I believe is a very similar if not exactly the same problem, as existing in New York City ( The whole excessive rain fall backs up sewers and the whole system dumps raw sewage into the East or whatever river/harbour arrangement they have there. My impression now is that this is a moderately common rust belt problem. FWIW