Poop in the river is something Chicago can get behind. Image credit:Photobucket, scubastza
Chicago is claiming that USEPA should not force the City to separate sewers and disinfect combined storm water and sewerage discharges that otherwise will go into area river channels. EPA's request that Chicago do these things would require significant expenditure and Chicago is resisting.
You won't believe the reasoning that City Officials are officially citing as a basis of their opposition. Hint: it's not about the money and it's not about anything technical.Paraphrasing: 'city kids don't know how to swim; and, so it's better to have repulsive water to keep them from drowning.'
I'm thinking that the 'we can't afford it just now' argument would have been sufficient.
Here's a sample of Chicago Tribune coverage that spells out the essence of the City vs Federal EPA debate:
Three decades of improvements already have cleaned up the river to the point where 60 species of fish can be found in channels where just five once survived. But as more people are drawn to the waterways for recreation, federal and state officials have concluded that past efforts haven't been good enough.Footnotes.
After five years of study and two years of debate, the EPA concluded that the river can be restored and made more pleasant for people. "All of us want to see this environmental turnaround continue," the agency said Thursday in a statement.
Chicago is the only major U.S. city that doesn't disinfect wastewater before pumping it into waterways. Meeting the standards advocated by federal officials would require disinfection equipment and an expensive overhaul of aging sewers that spill sewage and storm runoff into the river after storms.
Fecal material is also in storm water, and it originates from pigeons, rats, dogs and cats, homeless people, Canadian geese and seagulls. Hence, EPA's predilection for an end of pipe treatment solution when there are millions crowded together. Simple separation of sanitary and storm sewers may not do the trick.
The City could have possibly constructed an ecological argument against the sewer cleanup: that carp make it infeasible to meet technology based standards.
Carp are uniquely able to adapt to the very low dissolved oxygen levels as result from sewerage discharges. The crappier the water, the happier the carp is and the worse he makes it. (It is hard to appreciate how well adapted the carp is to foul circumstances until you catch one with a full gut and have him disgorge the contents at your feed.) Carp roil the waters with their feeding behaviors and in so doing make the place generally unsuitable to other clean water species - from a Darwinian standpoint, more habitat and food is there for them as others are excluded.