GRN Releases Our Waters, Our Health: A Citizen's Guide to Sewage
In order to help you prevent harmful sewage pollution from entering the streams and rivers that you love, the Gulf Restoration Network has produced "Our Waters, Our Health, A Citizen's Guide to Sewage Pollution." This Guide illustrates how untreated or poorly-treated sewage creates pollution problems, explains how governments regulate sewage pollution, outlines how our waters become contaminated by sewage, and teaches citizens how to solve problems in their community.
Get started today by contacting us to receive a copy of the Citizen's Guide. The Guide is free to GRN members. Additionally, GRN staff are available to give workshops to help citizen's groups use the Guide more effectively. To schedule your workshop today, contact Matt Rota.
Pollution from untreated sewage is a problem in many Gulf communities. In 2006, beaches in the Gulf States were closed or had swimming advisories for a combined total of 3,208 days due to elevated levels of bacteria in the water. Much of the bacteria came from sources such as sewage spills, septic tanks, and other runoff from developed areas. Water contaminated by sewage can contain harmful chemicals and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Those who swim in contaminated water can potentially experience diarrhea, vomiting, ear infections, rashes, or even serious diseases such as hepatitis.
In addition, sewage can contaminate valuable shellfish beds which can lead to illness and hospitalization of those who consume them. In the Florida Keys, 85 percent of elkhorn corals have been killed by white pox disease, caused by bacteria in human sewage.
Older or malfunctioning sewage treatment plants are a prime source of pathogens in water. Broken, leaky, or corroded pipes can lead to direct discharges of raw sewage. In addition, many facilities are not properly maintained or modernized, leading to discharges of improperly treated sewage.
Common Pollutants Found in Sewage
- Bacteria and Viruses that can cause intestinal illnesses, respiratory problems, and even death.
- Nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, that can cause harmful algal blooms, low dissolved oxygen, and dead zones.
- Pharmaceuticals, which can interfere with animal and human endocrine systems.
What We Do
The GRN monitors permits to sewage treatment plants to ensure that they are in compliance with applicable laws, leads workshops for communities fighting for better sewage treatment, and advocates for laws that better protect communities from sewage pollution.
What You Can Do
any suspicious pollution you see coming from a wastewater treatment plant.
- If you use a septic system, make sure it is inspected regularly.
- Do not flush pharmaceuitical drugs, household cleaners, or other products that do not belong in our sewage systems.