News Feature | September 28, 2017

Hurricane Season Has Left Wastewater Systems In Disrepair

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

harvey reg new

Hurricane season “trashed” wastewater systems in cities across the country, according to a news article published on Quartz focused on damage from Harvey and Irma.

“Untreated water has combined with all the flooding from storm surges to fill the cities and surrounding areas, posing health risks for people trying to return to normalcy,” the report said.

In Florida, city pipelines were overwhelmed despite that they are built to handle double the amount of water they can filter, the report said. Recent hurricanes were too much for these systems after “500,000 gallons of wastewater flooded St. Petersburg and Orlando, with another 6 million gallons flowing out to the coast of Key Biscayne after Hurricane Irma,” Bloomberg reported.

The upshot? “Pipes have overflowed with millions of gallons of untreated water into streets, homes, and along the coasts of the state,” Quartz reported.

The U.S. EPA is deploying specialists to Florida to help resurrect local wastewater treatment plants, Bloomberg reported.

“As wastewater treatment lagged, utilities across the state warned residents to boil water before drinking it,” the report said.

“Riggs Eckelberry, the president of OriginClear, a California-based water purification tech company, tells Quartz it’s working with local affiliates to send industrial water filter machines capable of cleaning water from oil spills to the affected areas,” Quartz reported.

Texas is facing daunting challenges, as well.

“The U.S. EPA says that at least 40 of the 1,219 wastewater treatment centers in the area surrounding Houston are temporarily out of commission in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey,” the report said.

Officials have looked to prior storms to get a sense of how deep the damage may be.

“After Hurricane Sandy ravaged the northeast U.S. in 2012, damaged treatment plants and pumping stations caused untreated sewage to flow into local waterways for weeks. All told, facilities in the eight states hardest hit by the super storm released 11 billion gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage,” Bloomberg reported, citing an assessment by Climate Central.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Stormwater Management Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Hurricane Harvey Flooding - 8/26 to ?," jillcarlson.org © 2017, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/