I know, I know — the internet is awash (har har, water humor) in petitions for various causes. It’s sort of dismal, but many of us (myself included) are prone to heave a small sigh whenever we get another request for our support.
But this one, brought to us by the SWIM Coalition, is for an Important Thing quite near and dear to our hearts — clean waterways in the built environment — so I’m posting about it here in the hopes of garnering additional momentum.
In an average year, somewhere around 27 billion gallons of untreated human sewage mixed with polluted runoff enter local waterways throughout New York City’s five boroughs as a result of Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO).
The SWIM Coalition petition requests that New York City, New York State, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopt “enforceable plans that manage stormwater in NYC with Green Infrastructure. By creating a verdant, permeable city, we utilize stormwater as a resource, not a waste! Green Infrastructure will keep our waterways clean, cool and clean the air, and create a healthier place for people to live, work, recreate and visit.”
In other words, these folks want “swimmable and fishable” waterways. Lest you think that this doesn’t matter if you don’t live in New York City, consider why these waterways haven’t been swimmable or fishable for many, many years (that gets us back to the untreated human sewage and polluted runoff), and the fact that the EPA reports that CSOs discharge somewhere between 50 to 80 times per year, “resulting in the delivery nationwide of about 1.2 trillion gal of raw sanitary waste water, untreated industrial wastes and stormwater runoff into receiving waters each year.” A 2001 audit of NPDES files confirmed 859 active CSO permits, including 9,463 permitted CSO outfalls in 32 states across the United States.
The SWIM Coalition promotes the cause of swimmable and fishable waters in and around New York City using sustainable stormwater management practices like green infrastructure. They want to change the commonly held perception that stormwater is waste and help people re-frame it as a resource. They’re a great group who we have had the pleasure of knowing and working with (most recently through their co-sponsored Minds In The Gutter Contest) and they’re working for a cause everyone should care about.
So, if you’re not feeling too much cause fatigue, please sign away!