By the numbers, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy is hard to fathom. The so-called super storm swept through eight states, killing 159 people and causing $70 billion in damage. From power outages to flooded streets, the hurricane exposed alarming weaknesses in the infrastructure of Eastern Seaboard cities. Now, Climate Central, an independent research and journalism organization based in Princeton, N.J., has added another number to that list: 11 billion gallons of sewage flowed into waterways during the storm. The majority of overflows occurred in New York and northern New Jersey, where untreated and partially treated sewage flowed into surrounding rivers, bays, canals and, in some cases, streets, according to a recent Climate Central report. “This record storm revealed how vulnerable the sewage and wastewater treatment system is to major coastal flooding,” says Alyson Kenward, a scientist who is the lead author of the report. The fact that sewers overflow is no secret to city planners – and the unlucky residents who live near treatment plants. “Combined” sewer systems are common in the Northeast, Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest, and are designed to carry commercial and domestic waste and stormwater in a single pipe. During heavy rains or tidal and coastal flooding, though, the sewers’ pipes can become overwhelmed. Fixing these combined sewer systems has been a decades-long effort. Rather than face steep fines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, cities agreed as far back as the mid-1990s to commit to long-term plans that would overhaul their network of pipes. The EPA estimates that combined sewers are used in 772 towns and cities across the country and serve 40 million people.
Entries in energy efficiency (288)
Energy Savings plus Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 Lights a Path Forward for Energy Efficiency
By ACEEE Policy Program Director Suzanne Watson Today Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) released The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, a new energy efficiency-based bill. The bill will take up portions of the previously introduced bill, The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 (S. 1000), that did not pass as part of the The American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act of 2012 (H.R. 6582). The bill also contains a new private commercial building financing provision, the “Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Financing Initiative,” that will provide modest funding to states to create and operate innovative financing programs for efficiency upgrades to private sector commercial buildings.