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Preventing the Potential Poop-pocalypse Under Our Feet

By JoshMogerman in News on Jan 6, 2013 10:00PM

Interconnected Waterways: sewer grate on Spring Road in Elmhurst [ClarkMaxwell]

There’s a potential poop-pocalypse looming right under our feet. That most civilizing influence, indoor plumbing, is only possible thanks to the miles of tunnels and infrastructure that shunts waste out of our cities (or, in Chicago’s case, into our river). But there is a slow developing crisis emerging as we have put off investment in sewers around the country, forcing ever increasing amounts of waste into the Great Lakes, the nation's waterways, and even our neighbors' basements.

Mayor Emanuel sounded the alarm here, highlighting century-old hollowed out trees still in use under some Chicago streets while making the pitch for his infrastructure trust to pay for increased sewer upgrades. And the Sun-Times makes the case for increased investment in green infrastructure---using natural surfaces that capture and filter stormwater to augment the overburdened sewers---in an editorial this week pointing the way for the new Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board as they grapple with water pollution issues in the region.

But it might be the intrepid journalist Miles O’Brien making the strongest pitch for fixing the problem as he journeyed into the bowels of Detroit for PBS’ NewsHour this week. The guy literally dropped his glasses into a shit creek…and lived not only tell the tale, but also present a road map for how Chicago and the nation’s major cities can move in the right direction (and avoid…ummm…bowel movements making their way into people’s basements). The segment is worth a watch: