Colin Payne

How Climate Change Could Deliver Sewage to Your Doorstep

by , 06/24/14
filed under: News

climate change, sewage, rising seas, sea level rising, Oakland, California, San Francisco Bay, raw sewage, sewage overflow, sewage at your doorstep, new america media, climate change, global warming, floods, natural disasters

It’s widely acknowledged that climate change is putting humanity’s future in some deep doo-doo, but now it’s getting literal. Grist.org reports that rising sea levels and massive storms associated with the changing weather patterns being brought on by climate change will most likely extract sewage and toxic waste from sewers and industrial areas in some American cities, bringing a toxic concoction right to your doorstep — if you live in a low-lying area.

sewer, flooding, backed up, overflowing, sewage, flood

According to a report by New America Media, rising sea levels threaten the sewer system in Oakland, California, which sits on the shore of San Francisco Bay and has a large area of residential housing sitting on the Flatlands just above sea level and only a mile from the waterfront. While residents think they’re safe, a local conservation and development group says the low lying areas in Oakland will be some of the first to get flooded as sea levels rise. “Some of the first flooding likely to occur will be in the low lying areas of Oakland, where the poor people happen to live,” lead senior planner of the Adapting to Rising Tides project of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Lindy Lowe told New America Media.

Related: IPCC Report Warns Climate Change is Happening Now and Nobody Will Be Spared

And it’s now clear that sea level rise is going to happen, as a new analysis of sea level rise by Climate Central shows sea level could go up by as much as eight inches by 2030 and 19 inches by 2050. And that’s just tip of the iceberg, as melting glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic may have become irreversible, leading to even larger increases in sea levels down the road. New America Media reports that sea levels that are 19 inches higher than they are now would overrun Oakland International Airport, as well as waterfront infrastructure like railway lines, roads and – some facilities at the large wastewater treatment plant in West Oakland.

While East Oakland has a pump system to deal with this kind of situation, the predictions show a time will come when it’s overwhelmed by water levels that are too high. The city’s current sewer system is being overhauled under a broad public works program known as Measure B, and a massive $40 million plan to add 42 miles of new piping, while upgrading about 290 miles of current sewer piping is currently in funding stages.

Via New America Media

Images via Flickr Creative Commons, Neil Conway and George Roger Gilbert

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1 Comment

  1. Kafkian June 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    The sewers and growth ARE the main reasons for global warming.
    Sewer are inefficient recycling NPKs.

    Let me provide an example:

    An area of 10 square feet can withhold 6 to 10 potato plants. The nutrients used to grow these plants are INVARIABLY water, carbon, NPK and other micronutrients . NPKs have two origins . Organic recycled from us and animals and mined which are subsequently balanced on synthetic fertilizers . N (nitrogen ) is abundantly present in the air , but the P ( phosphorus ) and K ( potassium) are “finite” resources as well as other micronutrients such as magnesium, calcium , so on. These nutrients are kept in the “topsoil” in form of organic material such as decomposing leaves, roots and fungus. To prevent topsoil erosion and desertification, topsoil has to maintain 100% of those nutrients every crop or it will no longer produce food as these nutrients are not fastly naturally replenished. It’s a VERY fragile cycle. Until man came up with industrial transportation this cycle was maintained fairly original for millions of years. You eat, you shit nearby. Topsoil integrity is maintained. With city growth and food transportation food AKA soil nutrients began being MASSIVELY sent hundreds and or thousands of miles to those “parasitic” cities that can never EFFICIENTLY return the full 100% of the NPKs. The EROEI to return 100% of those soil nutrients back is now 0% efficient in relation to the kilojoules of energy kept in the crops. It needs external transportation energy that heat up the planet due to this inefficiency. Plus, you need to retrieve from the sewers those nutrients, apart from the water, heavy metals and other pollutants city sewers carry. There’s is no way to efficiently retrieve the 100% of it. IT. IS .GOING. TO. COLLAPSE. This model only works as long as there is mines and Oil, and in the last two centuries of the Industrial Revolution 1/3 of “topsoil” is now at risk of becoming desert. Which is to say billions living in cities will have to be relocated back to the fields before the Oil crisis starts. To this lunacy we call the Global “economy”, with it’s insane and surreal inequity and values of “wealth” creation at a very high ecosystem cost. About 150 football stadiums of forest disappearing a minute.
    Now, this NPK and micronutrients are lost and a VERY SMALL percentage is recycled. The logistic itself to have 100% of the sewer water recycled back into the global food chain mean replacing sewers that lose NPKs to the sea by composting toilets. And composting ALL wasted food. 100% of all food has to be recycled.

    Another example:

    You live in a small island with enough water, carbon and NPKs for 10 people but after the first year you lost 10% of it to the sea. What happens? Or either you all slowly starve, or you kill 1 of the islanders that eats 10% of that food. That’s the global food economy insanity, right now.

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