There are many variables threatening America’s water from pollution issues and aging infrastructure to raising costs and droughts and rainfall patterns as the climate changes. The U.S. used to be a leader when it came to water infrastructure and management. Now, the U.S. is lagging behind receiving D ratings for dams, drinking water and wastewater. It’s time to start focuses on possible solutions to curb these issues – the U.S. can get A ratings and below are some of the solutions that may get the nation where it needs to be.
It starts with creating a national-level governance. Water technically has no boundaries and is very good at sometimes ignoring the municipal boundaries it does have. So what does this mean? One town’s water use or sewage can affect other cities or states that rely on the same water supply. That’s why many countries have a national water authority or commission that oversees water management across the country. The U.S. does not and we’re exactly the opposite. Our nation’s water supply is managed by individual municipalities each doing their own thing. This creates numerous hurdles to climb and makes it difficult to initiate and complete regional projects.
To do almost anything, there needs to be a budget and that’s the case with water infrastructure. The government spends only two percent of its GDP on infrastructure, and water infrastructure makes up just a part of that. The U.S. is spending less than Vietnam, Mexico, and Chile. If the U.S. wants nice things, like a water infrastructure that does not fail us, then the U.S. has to be willing to pay for them.
One possible solution that most do not consider is the private investor sector. Many investors are interested in investing in water-related issues, but they want to know more about the social and environmental effects their investments will have. The problem is that there are a lot of inconsistencies in how companies report these estimates. It has been suggested that investors, academics and regulators need to team up to create a standardized system of evaluating the impacts of sustainable investments. Another challenge is getting investors to understand how complex and important water is, since it affects agriculture and many other business sectors. Investors want to know the bottom line and with more impactful measurements and numbers, this should make it easier for private investors to contribute.
As the climate changes, so will the needs of humans. Changes in heat, humidity and rainfall patterns are going to shape where we live, grow food and produce energy. It’s important to monitor the trends of our nation’s water infrastructure and the trends of the climate so the U.S. and its residents continue having the water supply they need to survive.
Summer is in full swing in the city of St. Louis. The interesting things to do are limitless. Whether you choose to bring the family out to the Botanical Gardens, one of the informative Museums, or perhaps the remarkable Zoo. Whatever you choose, there are plenty of exciting summer activities to enjoy. While you are out and about, you may also notice one of the many sewer improvement projects currently in process in the city. One project includes the installation of up to 2,500 feet of 16-inch ductile iron water main. In addition, approximately 3,700 feet of 24-inch existing water main is being lined with 20-inch dissolvable PVC water main. Lining the water main, rather than replacing it, decreases costs to customers and prevents unnecessary disruption to surrounding infrastructure. The project is anticipated to wrap up at the end of this month.
The Botanical Gardens is also cultivating a useful tactic by incorporating sustainable features on premises. In an effort to keep rainwater from running off into the street, a rain garden can be part of a larger solution. Most storms that come through St. Louis typically deliver a little over an inch of rain over the course of 24 hours. A garden full of native perennial plants could potentially capture the first inch of rainfall.
St. Louis, did you know that Drain Surgeons- Sewer and Drain Cleaning Specialists – offer an assortment of plumbing services in your area? In the industry of CIPP, this company is making an impressive mark! The professional staff is committed to bringing you their collective years of experience and dedication to quality. Perma-liner™ Industries is proud to work with such an outstanding company. Whether you have a backup, blockage or simply need an inspection to be sure your home’s pipelining system is functioning up to par, schedule an appointment with Drain Surgeons. They are certified, highly knowledgeable and have 24-hour service, putting your needs first. For the best service, go to www.drainsurgeons.com or call 314-894-4716.
In the aftermath of recent flooding, the city of St. Louis has labored to protect vital infrastructure from the damages that the flooding has created. This includes wastewater treatment plants, highway bridges, embankments and more. St. Louis has collected necessary information on water flow data and level to be entered into the National Water Information System. This essential tool is specifically for monitoring heavy storms that can potentially cause damages, as well as to forecast floods and droughts in real time. Some communities in Missouri continue to battle rising floodwaters, while others are beginning their recovery efforts. As water levels begin to recede on some smaller rivers, residents are encouraged to use caution near flood water as contaminants can pose a health risk. It is estimated that nearly 200 homes have been impacted by the floods, with many more at risk of exposure to the flood-like conditions.
Interesting fact: did you know that residential waste stabilization lagoons are commonly used for onsite sewage treatment? The lagoons are used when the soils are unsuitable for the traditional gravity flow drain field systems. A lagoon consists of an artificial pool for the treatment of sewage, or to accommodate surface water that overflows the storm drains during heavy rain. Interestingly, a septic tank is the most common onsite sewage treatment system for cities throughout Missouri. However, a connection to the city’s sewer system is the most reliable means of sewage disposal.
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Many cities throughout Missouri are facing the challenges of what to do with all of the excess rainwater. Most inflow and infiltration issues occur during severe storms or long periods of precipitation. The city of St. Louis is in the process of implementing a solution that tackles the problem more aggressively. The city has had to overcome the obstacles that sewer overflows have left behind, which also requires a means to better address these wet weather events. Currently, acreage to absorb storm water is in high demand. In order to create the space needed, the city is now removing many vacant and abandoned homes so that a vast amount of empty lots can be maintained and utilized for absorption and appropriate vegetation. Agencies within the city are collaborating on a variety of uses for the vacant land as green infrastructure will be a vital measure in the reduction of sewer overflows, as well as a resource for further ecological development.
The decreased amount of storm water entering the sewer system can have several other advantageous benefits. A few of these include lessening the occurrences of basement backups, a cutback in claims and claim-related costs associated with backups, reduced treatment costs and the increased capacity of the sewer system. An overabundance of water in the system can leave little room for actual wastewater and cause nuisances such as toilets not flushing properly or poor water drainage in a sink or tub. To help ensure you are better protected from the consequences that stormy weather can bring, there are a few proactive measures you can take. Make sure your rain gutters drain out onto the ground instead of just disappearing underground. If your basement has a floor drain, make sure it doesn’t drain into the sewer system. If you use a sump pump to drain storm water out of your basement or crawlspace, make sure the water is pumped onto the ground outside and not into a sewer line.
The city of St. Louis has many homes that are set on top of hilly landscape and far off driveways, that lead the way to a somewhat hidden home. Several properties are woody, with shrubs and trees lining the entrances. Some of the landscape that is planted is pivotal in avoiding the issues that infiltration of storm water can cause. Residents have also taken to natural preventatives such as rain gardens, creating a proactive barrier to absorb rainwater. Landscaping, trees, shrubs are known to lessen the negative effects of wet weather events into the sewer systems as well as add aesthetic value to properties. Excessive stormwater can worsen flooding, as well as cause a rise to the sea level, promoting shoreline erosion and damage to affected neighborhoods.
The city has implemented a measure to counteract such damages by building a large rain garden in north St. Louis. Last year the city experienced major flooding which created a massive sewer overflow of about 200 million gallons. This was one of the largest nationwide- within a timeframe of over two years, leaving many residents and businesses to regain and rebuild. The widespread flooding was worst along the Meramec River in the southern part of the St. Louis region. An estimate of 7,000 structures were damaged. The city has since been inventive in its approach; putting in place strategies to better protect treatment plants from major floods. A levee built to withstand a 500-year flood was not enough to prevent a ruinous situation.
Interestingly, a rain garden can help prevent low levels of flooding. Most storms that come through St. Louis typically deliver a little over an inch of rain over the course of 24 hours. A garden full of native perennial plants could potentially capture the first inch of rainfall. Generally, the cost to build a rain garden can range from ten to fifteen dollars per square foot. Specific areas of the city are offering a grant program to encourage homeowners, businesses, and organizations in their rainscaping endeavors.