When it Rains, It Drains

Everytime it rains in NYC, even a light rain, there is the threat of combined sewer overflows. That means that both storm water and sewer water combine to overflow the infrastructure that carries water to the treatment plants. There is too much water for the pipes and the excess is released into creeks, rivers, and streams in the NYC area. That’s right. Sewage released into waterways where you swim, boat, kayak, and fish. It’s something everyone should be aware of because it happens often and it’s not easily fixed. I’m reminded it everyday when I run along the Hudson River.

Combined Sewer Overflow Point on Hudson River

Combined Sewer Overflow Point on Hudson River – Photo By Amy Freeze

This activity is a threat to water quality. It’s basically an equation of too much water in too short of time and not enough pipe to push the water. This is a problem in many large, older cities. The solutions are not simple. From the city to activists, many people are concerned about stormwater runoff and its impact on water quality. Here’s what New York City has to say about Stormwater and a Map of Combined Sewer Overflow outlets in NYC. This is where you can find Current Water Advisories in NYC Alerts.

CSO Release Point on Upper West Side

CSO Release Point on Upper West Side – Photo by Amy Freeze

I did my Master Thesis on storm water at University of Pennsylvania and continue to be interested in a way to alert the community that our water quality if vulnerable! It’s such a tricky topic. As water flows from our faucets everyday, it seems like a never ending flow of clean, safe water. But everytime there is a storm there is threat to water quality. Taking actions like: delaying fertilizers and pesticides, redirecting runoff, capturing rainwater, ration use of water during storms are all things that we will need to consider as a community to protect water quality.

I recently spoke with Kate Zidar, Executive Director of Newtown Creek Alliance who shared some exciting plans for combined sewer release notifications. Kate is working with Leif Percifield of Parsons the New School of Design on a new way to communicate combined sewer overflows when they happen for Newtown. Click to find out more at DON’T FLUSH ME!

If you know of stormwater problems where you live or you know of environmental organizations working for water quality – send me their information!

HERE I WILL CREATE A LINK TO THE Stormwater Action Alert Program CREATED by Meteorologist Amy Freeze.

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