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November 23, 2009

Sewer Improvements Can Be Radical, Too!

Other than the gross-out factor involved with the NYT's piece on our nation's collapsing sewer systems, I was most struck by this:
The only real solution, say many lawmakers and water advocates, is extensive new spending on sewer systems largely ignored for decades. As much as $400 billion in extra spending is needed over the next decade to fix the nation’s sewer infrastructure, according to estimates by the E.P.A. and the Government Accountability Office.
This came after a nod to Philadelphia's new radical plan to address its severe rainwater runoff problem almost entirely through ecological means. The whole point of what Philadelphia is doing is that it will "only" cost $1.6 billion, doesn't involve huge infrastructure projects and will very likely solve the problem. It's true that Philly would be blazing a trail, but it's one that, if successful, other cities are ready to follow -- why was this development almost entirely downplayed?

I'm aware that local officials aren't always the most creative infrastructure thinkers at the same time as progressives are looking for promising areas for infrastructure improvements (and thus stimulus) -- water treatment systems are surely one of those. But infrastructure in the Obama era is supposed to be about both kinds of green. Let's keep that in mind, shall we?

Photo credit: Cynthia Greer, Philadelphia Inquirer

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