Parts of the sewer system in Brooklyn are overburdened, so during large rainfalls a mix of raw sewage and storm water are discharged into nearby waterways like the East River; in municipal lingo, it’s called a “combined sewer overflow.” CSOs contribute significantly to local water pollution, especially in the Gowanus Canal where, experts recently said, the Superfund cleanup will be for naught if the city doesn’t do something to address CSOs.
The city has taken a first step in addressing the problem: it has installed rubber “dams” in sewers in Red Hook and Williamsburg, the Post reports, which will inflate during rain storms, preventing sewagey water from escaping until it can be pumped into a wastewater treatment plant. (Fail switches will activate before sewage backs up onto the street.) It should prevent 100 gallons of sewage per year from dumping into the East River.
Though critics aren’t entirely satisfied. Evan Thies, a North Brooklyn activist, told the paper that the city still needs to make substantial infrastructural improvements.
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