Friday, December 7, 2012

Challenges for Portland's Storm Drains

According to National Clean Water Laws, 

Portland must stop raw sewage from dumping into Casco   Bay


Here's the bottom line: The City of Portland's wastewater system is old and needs reinvestment. It's a big system and needs a lot of repairs:

  • 133 miles of combined sewer pipe
  • 62 miles of sanitary sewer pipe
  • 133 miles of storm sewer pipe
  • Thousands of catch basins, manholes, detention ponds, underground waste  underground waste water storage facilities, and sewer pump stationswater storage facilities, and sewer pump stations manholes, detention ponds, underground waste water storage facilities, and sewer pump stations

Nearly half of the storm drain system is in fair to poor shape.

This causes pollution in Casco Bay and floods in local streets and basements. Portland's wastewater system was built in several stages during the two last centuries. The oldest parts of the system are on the peninsula and other areas of the city. The wastewater system blends sewage from buildings and factories with runoff and melting snow into a single set of pipes that take the water to the East End Wastewater Treatment Plant.
When too much runoff or melting snow enter the system, it overwhelms the pipes and treatment plants and overflows. Sometimes excess water backs up into families' basements, sometimes onto the streets, and sometimes into local brooks and Casco Bay.

The newer parts of the system are in neighborhoods like Nason's Corner and North Deering. Here, the sewage is carried from buildings to the East End wastewater treatment plant in a separate pipe and the storm drains collect and dump runoff into the nearest stream.

Whenever and wherever the wastewater system overflows, that's pollution! It's water mixed with sewage, garbage, and whatever chemicals have washed off lawns, parking lots, streets, and construction sites.

Sewage spills are the most concentrated pollution, but even rainwater runoff is polluted with trash and chemicals from lawns, roads, parking lots.

In 2011, the City of Portland spilled more than 400 million gallons of combined sewage and runoff into local streams and Casco Bay. How much is that? Imagine 145 tanker trucks, like the one below, dumping pollution into Casco Bay every single day for a full year.

Portland's Legal Obligations

According to national clean water laws, Portland must stop raw sewage from dumping into Casco Bay. The City has signed an agreement with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection pledging to control the problem.

Don;t worry Portland...Storm Regen is almost ready to help you.

This article is a reprint from the The Clean Water Equals Clean Growth website is a project of the City of Portland to alert residents to pending changes in their sewer bills. 

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