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Subject: How often does this crap happen? rss

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casey r lowe
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bjlillo wrote:
Who in the world thought it would be a good idea to combine rainwater with industrial waste and sewage? Holy cow people are stupid.

if only there was an environmental regulation that prevented this
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Robert Wesley
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single sentences wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
Who in the world thought it would be a good idea to combine rainwater with industrial waste and sewage? Holy cow people are stupid.

if only there was an environmental regulation that prevented this
Also; DETROIT becoming 'relocated' onto the Eastern Shores of Lake Michigan, for those 'insipidly ignorant' of geography, eh? whistle
 
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rico
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bjlillo wrote:

Who in the world thought it would be a good idea to combine rainwater with industrial waste and sewage? Holy cow people are stupid. Sure would be nice to allocate some funds towards fixing these ridiculous things.

Oh, so NOW you are pro-EPA. Too late, sucker! You've been TRUMPED!
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Jason Reid
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bjlillo wrote:
spoon wrote:
bjlillo wrote:

Who in the world thought it would be a good idea to combine rainwater with industrial waste and sewage? Holy cow people are stupid. Sure would be nice to allocate some funds towards fixing these ridiculous things.

Oh, so NOW you are pro-EPA. Too late, sucker! You've been TRUMPED!


Not at all. The EPA is the closest thing to tyranny we have in this country.


So what would the alternative be in this instance?
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Robert Wesley
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bjlillo wrote:


Not at all. The EPA is the closest thing to tyranny we have in this country.
jasonwocky wrote:

So what would the alternative be in this instance?
shake NAUGHT 'being' "full of it" daily an *Option*, obviously? robot
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rico
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bjlillo wrote:
spoon wrote:
bjlillo wrote:

Who in the world thought it would be a good idea to combine rainwater with industrial waste and sewage? Holy cow people are stupid. Sure would be nice to allocate some funds towards fixing these ridiculous things.

Oh, so NOW you are pro-EPA. Too late, sucker! You've been TRUMPED!


Not at all. The EPA is the closest thing to tyranny we have in this country. They stood in the way of getting the permits to fix this problem in Milwaukee and don't punish the city for the poopwater dumping in the first place. If this were a private business dumping their sewage straight into the lake, you can be damn sure the EPA would be on them like a Packer fan on his toothless sister. Since it's a government agency doing the dumping, they seem to have lost their ability to care.

So you want the EPA to be as strong against government as they are against the private sector? We agree! That makes us PRO EPA, they just need more power to act against other government entities.
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Steve Cates
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Thanks Obama!

Had to get one more in the before Trump starts getting blamed for this stuff. Oh wait he already is.

That being said, it never makes sense to me how sewage treatment works. Aeration, for example, just throw the sewage up in the air? Are there any civil engineers in rsp that can hand wave this away as no problem?


 
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Robert Wesley
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LIVE in around Phoenix where "effluence"-vapors "waft" nearby their Parks nightly! "Flying Blood-Red Roaches" even. \gulp/
 
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ironcates wrote:

That being said, it never makes sense to me how sewage treatment works. Aeration, for example, just throw the sewage up in the air?


Sewage passes through a series of tanks during treatment. One of the tanks (one of the later tanks) is an aerator that bubbles atmosphere through the liquid. Aerobic bacteria can break down the dissolved organics (poopstuff cubes if you will) to CO2 but there is so much reduced carbon they will actually run out of oxygen first (and fast) so you have to keep delivering O2 rapidly or the system will lock up, overflow, and cause well, unpleasantness.

I'm less familiar with the problems of the merged water system described in the OP but sewage treatment needs time and pacing such that high flux (like from heave rain runoff) could definitely overflow the system.

At face value, yeah it seems dumb.
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Marco Mann
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bjlillo wrote:
GROGnads wrote:
Also; DETROIT becoming 'relocated' onto the Eastern Shores of Lake Michigan, for those 'insipidly ignorant' of geography, eh? whistle



So your solution to Detroits problems is to move it the shores of Lake Shitikaka? Its no wonder the EPA were against it.
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J.D. Hall
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After reading the article, all I can say:

Great thread hedder, man, great!
 
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bjlillo wrote:
Considering 860 communities in the US still have them, the stupidity was clearly widespread.


It's not really stupidity so much as it is skewed priorities and a lack of forward planning. Sewers are expensive; municipalities have to pay for them with property taxes and states have to pay for them with state taxes and people like neither of those things, and combined sewer systems are dramatically cheaper than separate redundant systems - which makes sense if you're a smaller community that's too big for just mass septic tank usage but small enough that paying for redundant systems is politically problematic, especially when combined systems are almost always sufficient for smaller communities who are producing less total poop. Unless, of course, those communities grow dramatically, which is what happened in Milwaukee.

Like, those 860 communities in the USA that still have combined sewer systems? Are a total of 40 million people. That's an average of 46,000ish people per community with a combined system, which makes sense given their limitations re: population size.

Quote:
Milwaukee spent a couple billion dollars to dig a deep tunnel and shove the poopwater down there instead of spending that money to separate the sewer system into separate sewage/wastewater and rainwater systems a few years back. Part of that decision was the difficulty in getting proper environmental permits from the WI DNR and EPA. Actual irony.


Part of the reason there was difficulty getting permits from the DNR and EPA (per this paper) is that Milwaukee favoured less stringent requirements for controlling overflows - what constituted an "allowable overflow" (IE how big a storm has to be before an overflow is reasonable) and the DNR said "not good enough" and the EPA said "REALLY not good enough" and eventually the three parties came to a compromise position which came well before the overflow events in your initial post.

So, to sum up: your objection re: the EPA in this instance is that they tyrannically interfered in the Milwaukee sewage construction process by demanding higher standards, and then when they compromised on a lower standard than they would have preferred you're now upset because overflows are still happening because of the lower standard?

Conservatives, man. I don't know.
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bjlillo wrote:
Milwaukee reached peak population in 1960 when it was the 11th largest city in the US. It has declined 20% since then so this doesn't really apply at least in the last 55 years.


My understanding is that the Milwaukee sewer system serves the greater Milwaukee metro area, which has grown since 1960?

(If not then Milwaukee basically chose a cheaper system which couldn't do the job for the sake of money and little else, so that's not actually better.)

Quote:
Not really, no. The permitting process was too difficult and therefore the cost/time necessary was just too high for re-doing the sewer as a separate (not "redundant" like you tried to say earlier) system so they came up with the deep tunnel since that would be easier to get through and get built.


Looking back at the paper (and feel free to dispute) this theory doesn't seem to be born out:

Quote:
Pursuing the first alternative — keeping water from infiltrating the system — would have been expensive. Reducing the influx of water into the sewerage system by 50 percent would have added an additional $1 billion to the original cost of the project. The separate sewer alternative had many critics, especially in the city of Milwaukee. A large area of the city, including the entire downtown and a section of Shorewood, had combined storm and sanitary sewers. Separating the sewers would have caused physical and economic disruption for years. Private property owners would have been forced to obtain expensive new sewer connections. Businesses would have suffered economically as roads and sidewalks were torn up. In addition, since the combined sewer area was in Milwaukee and Shorewood, these two municipalities would have borne the cost. Milwaukee’s district attorney went so far as to predict that crimes of arson would increase as a result, since homeowners would face charges ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 just for new sewer lateral lines.

In light of these projected difficulties, officials settled on the second option: to increase the processing capability of the sewerage system. Upgrades to sewage treatment plants would increase their capability for processing sewage, and the construction of underground storage facilities would allow all wastewater to be treated before it was returned to the lake. Cost was a major consideration in this decision. Federal and state funding for the project seemed likely to be less than the amounts projected early on, and local taxpayers would therefore bear a large share of the costs. The cost of the deep-tunnel option was $469 million less than the option that would have involved separation of the combined sewers.


I don't see "the EPA made them do this" anywhere in that or in related sections. The EPA and DNR certainly got involved with the deep tunnel expansion projects because they felt - correctly - that they couldn't fully fix the issue. But this looks way more to be on the city than on regulatory agencies.
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Oliver Dienz
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For a somewhat different perspective:
http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2015/05/13/the-mmsd-story-how-the-...

Excerpt:

Quote:
One proposed solution was to separate the sewer and storm water tunnels to insure that the only water that got treated was actual sewage. Then the volumes of storm water that were causing the overflows wouldn’t even go into the treatment system. This kind of separation had been done in newer municipalities, but not in Milwaukee and Shorewood. In a 1979 report the District’s engineering consultant, CH2M Hill, concluded that separate sewers would be more cost effective over the long run because that was the only way to guarantee that only waste, and not clear water, was being treated. But the cost to replace the combined system with the separate system would be unfeasible for residents in Milwaukee and Shorewood. Because the pipes that connected their homes and businesses to the District’s system were on private property, the cost of disconnecting them, creating a separate line and reconnecting both to a new District system, would be borne by private residents. That cost, the consultants estimated, would be about $4,000. They pointed out that 19 percent of all households in Milwaukee at that time had an annual income under $5,000 and another 23 percent had incomes of $5,000 to $10,000. Rather than pay, the report warned, “landlords may be induced to abandon their structures or accelerate deterioration by withholding needed maintenance.” Loans might also prove elusive, which would put the city in the position of having to sponsor a loan program for homeowners who could not get one through traditional means. For middle-income families, the situation wasn’t much better. Replacing sewer lines could be as high as 40 percent of total housing costs for families who would not have access to tax-relief programs that were available to low-income families.

The other solution was to build another tunnel under the existing system into which overflow could be dumped when backups threatened. The proposed Deep Tunnel would provide an additional 581 million gallons of storage capacity until the Jones Island and South Shore Treatment plants—each could process about 300 million gallons a day—could handle the overflow. Since the entire district, not just those living in the combined sewer area, would benefit from the tunnel, CH2M Hill’s report concluded that the costs could be shared.
 
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Sam I am
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The fact that Milwaukee shit is consumed in Chicago goes a long way in explaining Bears fans.


'Whenever it rains in GR it shits in the Grand'
(A R city for decades)

http://blog.mlive.com/grpress/2008/07/despite_grand_rapids_e...

They have been "fixing" it recently though.
 
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bjlillo wrote:
I don't think I ever said "the EPA made them do this", I just said that EPA/DNR permitting requirements and the difficulty in getting them were part of what drove the cost and time to implement of a properly designed sewer system up so that a stupid deep tunnel was preferable.


But looking at the timeline of what actually happened, the EPA and DNR permitting requirements were established in the mid-70s, before the city chose to go the deep tunnel route instead of reinforcing the existing system to divert rainwater (expensive) or ripping up the existing system and replacing it with a two-tier system (more expensive). The actual court fight about Milwaukee's sewer system didn't involve the EPA at all as anything more than a concerned party; it was the state of Illinois suing Milwaukee for, well, dumping their shit in the lake and letting it float down to Chicago.

Following the lawsuit and the EPA's delivery of its required standards, the city looked at its options, and selected the option that was least effective and cost the least money, and their option didn't actually even meet the DNR or EPA's guidelines but those agencies basically said "oh, fuck it" and let it go through because they figured majority-reduction was better than none. (As an aside, the surrounding cities which also rely on the Milwaukee sewer system then sued Milwaukee because they felt they shouldn't have to pay for system upgrades which were primarily needed because of Milwaukee. They lost that lawsuit.)

Like, I seriously do not get the mindset that has you start off with "how can these poop explosions happen" and then switch from that to complaining about EPA regulations being needlessly strict and forcing a higher standard on the city so they had to... build the thing which wasn't as good? What the fuck? That doesn't even make a modicum of sense.

By all appearances - and I recognize it's your city and if you can find me some links that say otherwise I'm glad to read them - what happened with Milwaukee's sewer system is what happens with most major municipal projects: because people feel the tax pinch for such projects more directly (because it's almost always paid for with property taxes), they get stingy and cheap out on the project, so you get an inferior solution which has the merit of costing less money and the problem of settling for "okay, it'll prevent most of the poop overflows."
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Oliver Dienz
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bjlillo wrote:
odie73 wrote:
For a somewhat different perspective:
http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2015/05/13/the-mmsd-story-how-the-...

Excerpt:

Quote:
One proposed solution was to separate the sewer and storm water tunnels to insure that the only water that got treated was actual sewage. Then the volumes of storm water that were causing the overflows wouldn’t even go into the treatment system. This kind of separation had been done in newer municipalities, but not in Milwaukee and Shorewood. In a 1979 report the District’s engineering consultant, CH2M Hill, concluded that separate sewers would be more cost effective over the long run because that was the only way to guarantee that only waste, and not clear water, was being treated. But the cost to replace the combined system with the separate system would be unfeasible for residents in Milwaukee and Shorewood. Because the pipes that connected their homes and businesses to the District’s system were on private property, the cost of disconnecting them, creating a separate line and reconnecting both to a new District system, would be borne by private residents. That cost, the consultants estimated, would be about $4,000. They pointed out that 19 percent of all households in Milwaukee at that time had an annual income under $5,000 and another 23 percent had incomes of $5,000 to $10,000. Rather than pay, the report warned, “landlords may be induced to abandon their structures or accelerate deterioration by withholding needed maintenance.” Loans might also prove elusive, which would put the city in the position of having to sponsor a loan program for homeowners who could not get one through traditional means. For middle-income families, the situation wasn’t much better. Replacing sewer lines could be as high as 40 percent of total housing costs for families who would not have access to tax-relief programs that were available to low-income families.

The other solution was to build another tunnel under the existing system into which overflow could be dumped when backups threatened. The proposed Deep Tunnel would provide an additional 581 million gallons of storage capacity until the Jones Island and South Shore Treatment plants—each could process about 300 million gallons a day—could handle the overflow. Since the entire district, not just those living in the combined sewer area, would benefit from the tunnel, CH2M Hill’s report concluded that the costs could be shared.


Even that ham-fisted explanation is a simple case of the rules getting in the way of doing the right thing when you think it through. If it's cheaper and more environmentally responsible in the long run to do it the right way, fuck the rules. Pay for the connections to those houses with government bonds and save yourself the money and environmental damage in the long run. Don't fall back on rules that you have to follow so you can excuse being idiotic and continuing to dump crap straight into the Great Lakes.


Not that I disagree but hearing from you that the government should increase its debt to finance a large public works project benefiting some construction companies... It is not April 1st, is it? surprise
 
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Xuzu Horror
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To make it clear, for any that wish they had done a separated system instead, would you have planned the runoff water to be treated as well or go directly into the lake?

I agree that it would be great to separate them to be able to let only the runoff be dumped in times of rapid rainfall and because it would require less time for treatment than sewage, but during heavy rainfall it would still not be treated fast enough.

At least if separate, they could choose which to dump though.

If they ever upgrade, the current tunnel would not be useful though as it would still be best to hold as much runoff as possible before forcing that to be dumped.

Runoff can cause a lot of issues so treating it is important as well.
 
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Ben Foy
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bjlillo wrote:
Part of that decision was the difficulty in getting proper environmental permits from the WI DNR and EPA. Actual irony.


I am extremely skeptical about that difficulty. I've seen plenty of people blame their laziness on this sort of thing. I bet most people in the EPA would do whatever they could to make getting those permits as easy as possible.
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There's a sewage treatment plant down the freeway from my house. When the aerator is running it stinks to high heaven as you pass by. If I'm driving with people new to the area I usually explain what it is before we reach it, otherwise they'll (not noticing it's there) ask if something crawled up my ass and died. Har har. The people working there make good money although I imagine that even the ladies in the office have to take a shower first thing when they get home.
 
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