This just in!
My sister-in-law, Heather, just wrote with some interesting news, which she has agreed to let me share here. I don’t know how many cities are dealing with the issue of rainwater overflooding sewage but we ran across a similar concern today in Portland, ME, while talking to City Councilmen Dave Marshall and Kevin Donaghue, so let’s put it out there.
excerpt from Heather’s letter:
Tony put new gutters on the house! Now, we just need to get the downspouts on. Our old downspouts were directly connected to the Louisville sewer, which is no longer code! Basically, the sewer system in Louisville is very old. Of the 3,500 miles of sewer pipe, approximately 500 miles are over 100 years old, and much in need of repair. The big issue, though, is that when our sewage overflows (which happens plenty), it all overflows into streams/ponds/rivers/etc. That’s why it is no longer code for a house downspout (from the gutters) to go directly into the sewer line.
Can you imagine all the houses in Louisville with rainwater landing on all the roofs going directly into the sewers?! That’s a lot of rainwater! It’s a problem for MSD, and for the environment. All of that rainwater encourages the sewers to overflow, which pollute our streams/rivers. It’s a violation of the Clean Water Act, which aims for all bodies of water to be swimmable and fishable by 2024. 2024 gives us some time to work on it before the major fines kick in, but polluted waters until then make for an unhealthy and even dangerous situation. In the Louisville area, we are encouraged not to touch stream/river water until at least 2 days after any rain (so I guess that means that the sewage is overflowing a little everytime it rains).
One of the steps that Project WIN (“Waterway Improvements Now”) is taking is to encourage people to disconnect downspouts from the sewer & redirect them into your yard or a rain barrel (hence, the free rain barrel from the Metropolitan Sewer District). Rain barrels are particularly great because you can save the water for a dry time and water your plants/yard with it. So a rain barrel not only prevents run-off/overflow pollution, it reduces the amount of water we need to use from our spigots (which I’m sure saves both water and energy).
So, rainbarrels have started to pop up around the city. Tony and I kept saying we wanted one, but they are so expensive! Cheapest is approximately $100. But they go up to approx $300, and I’d say somewhere in the middle (about $150) is average). However, last week on Thursday in search of a local vendor, I was inspired to google “rain barrels Louisville, KY” and wouldn’t you know it – MSD was giving them away for free! First come, first serve on Saturday from 9am-11:30. (The next day, they message had already disappeared from the website!) So, on Saturday, I arrived at MSD at 9:15am, and there were already approximately 80 cars in front of me! Yikes. I waited about 50 minutes (which stinks – here we are trying to get the rainbarrels to help the environment and they make us line up our cars and idle instead of getting out and standing in a line), and when it was my turn, there were only 8 rain barrels left! Luckily, I got mine and took it home. It’s blue. (I thought we should paint clouds on it, but Tony was thinking we should paint fish on it). Now, we can catch all of the rainwater that falls on our roof and save it to water our plants with! And it was free! Hooray! Still, I think I’d like to buy a second one. But at least I got the first free. Tony is setting it up today, I think. I only wish that Mimi had been home so that she could have gotten one too! (only one per household).
BTW: The Louisville MSD site says that Louisville is not alone in its sewer conditions and problems; that many other cities are facing this problem also.
So, there we have it, from the Louisvillian’s mouth. I, for one, had no idea that most of Louisville’s houses were set up to drain directly into the sewers from their rooftops, so it’s definitely news to me. Many thanks to Heather for the update!!! P.S. Send us a photo of the rainbarrel, will ya? and i will add here…
alright, signing off from Portland, ME
For more info about this project in Louisville, you can visit www.msdlouky.org/projectwin/index.htm