Water and waste

If you’re tired of worrying about climate change or the economy, you can start worrying about water pollution: an article in the New York Times says raw sewage is leaking into waterways. I know that I take water for granted, and I suspect you do, too. There’s always been plenty, and it’s been so cheap we think of it as free. For most of my life, we drank water from the tap without giving it a thought. Lately we’re more comfortable buying the tap water in plastic bottles, thinking somehow that packaged water we pay more for must be safer/healthier.

I don’t really know where my water comes from, and how vulnerable that mystery supply is to toxic pollution. An eye-opener from the Times:
As cities have grown rapidly across the nation, many have neglected infrastructure projects and paved over green spaces that once absorbed rainwater. That has contributed to sewage backups into more than 400,000 basements and spills into thousands of streets, according to data collected by state and federal officials. Sometimes, waste has overflowed just upstream from drinking water intake points or near public beaches.

There is no national record-keeping of how many illnesses are caused by sewage spills. But academic research suggests that as many as 20 million people each year become ill from drinking water containing bacteria and other pathogens that are often spread by untreated waste.