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Water, water everywhere

January 20, 2010

… and not a drop to drink!

Do you know where your waste run-off goes?

If you live in Maryland, DC or Virginia, the chances are high that your sewers lead directly to the Chesapeake Bay.

A lot of the water from storm drains is harmless rainwater, which goes right back into the 15-trillion gallon bay.

But what about the not-so-savory things that go into storm drains? I’m talking motor oil, fertilizer, antifreeze, trash — even soap from washing cars! According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation:

It does not go to a wastewater treatment plant, so no pollution is removed from the water. Any substance that goes into your storm drain goes directly into a local stream or river, which eventually empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

The bay is home to more than 3600 specials of plants, fish and animals. 16 million people live in the watershed and rely on the bay as a commercial and recreational resource. It also produces 500 million pounds of seafood a year, feeding many people, providing a livelihood for fishermen and providing a good source of fresh, local food.

I’d never really thought about this before but walking around my neighborhood the other day, I noticed a number of storm drains marked “Chesapeake Bay” or “Chesapeake Bay Drainage” and began wondering what the story was. In my head, I imaged the run-off going through some sort of purification process before ending up the bay, never dreaming that it would go straight from the street to the estuary.

The Bay Restoration Fund tries to clean the bay by upgrading Maryland’s wastewater treatment plants, instituting a $30 “flush tax” on every state household and business. So far, the three largest haven’t made a single renovation.

What can you do? Volunteer or donate money to support cleanup projects. Pollution of the Chesapeake Bay doesn’t just affect a few people. The watershed includes parts of six states — Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia — as well as DC. That’s a big chunk of the East Coast!

Do you know where the wastewater goes in your town? More DC locations from “The Lost Symbol”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2010 3:00 pm

    i’ll never understand why we treat this planet so horribly. what will it take to wake us all up once and for all?

  2. simone permalink
    January 20, 2010 9:10 pm

    you took a page out of my book!

    • January 20, 2010 9:26 pm

      Well, you know I want to be just like you! 😉

  3. January 21, 2010 11:30 am

    I actually didn’t know that the water from the storm drains went directly into the Bay (eventually). What a shame that it doesn’t get filtered somehow. Or I guess people in general could just be more careful, but I’m not holding my breath for that one.

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