Hurricane Sandy Caused Overflow Of 10 Billion Gallons Of Raw And Untreated Sewage

A Climate Central report urges a rapid overhaul of the East Coast’s wastewater system, saying rising seas mean we may see an increase in similar incidents.

Hurricane Sandy Caused Overflow Of 10 Billion Gallons Of Raw And Untreated Sewage

Hurricane Sandy unleashed 10 billion gallons of raw and partly treated sewage during its onslaught, according to an NGO report yesterday.

One of the principal authors of the Climate Central study yesterday warned that there could be a repeat of the situation if something wasn’t done to the relevant infrastructure on the East Coast. New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, estimates repairing the water treatment plants could cost $1.1 billion.

Rising sea levels and more extreme weather conditions were behind the deluge, said Dr. Alison Kenward. Wastewater plants needed an expensive overhaul, Pumps and electrical equipment needed to be raised, and watertight doors and windows installed. Given the nature of the facility, however, and the fact that the plants are situated near the water, “they are always going to be vulnerable to coastal flooding,” Kenward told a teleconference.

Climate Central also published a beautiful interactive graphic that shows where and how each sewage overflow occurred, and how much of the brown stuff came from the treatment centers in each state. Seventy per cent of the sewage was partially treated, while the remainder was untreated.

Of the sewage, 94% flowed into waterways and bays in New York and Jersey, with NYC being inundated with 1.6 billion gallons. Long Island’s Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant lost 2.2 billion gallons of partly treated waste–it poured into the Rockaway Channel–and was not brought back online until two months after the disaster.

[Image by Flickr user dakine kane]

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My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.