Sewer and storm water overflow in Cincinnati; nearly killed my friend’s husband in 2017. He was hospitalized with an extremely high fever, migratory septic arthritis and extreme weakness.
Thank God, their daughter, the seventh of their nine, who had just finished her nursing degree, kept asking questions and pressing the MDs. Finally, after being misdiagnosed four times, he was seen by an infectious disease doctor, who diagnosed a bacteria that is only found on river rats. This likely happened when he was cleaning up the damage in the family pet store from the flash flood of sewer water overflow and rainwater from the back hill that was high enough to get into the store.
What if this could have been prevented? This past Monday at a Sierra Club meeting, I learned that there is an easy way to capture rainwater in cistern-like pools and swimmable ponds and then use it as needed. So rather than have rainwater and sewer water flow together and make all of it have to go through our treatment plants, we would have much less raw sewage and therefore save money. I was told that 95% of single households would pay less than they pay now and 25 % would pay at least 42% less!
The other wonder is that we have the technology to not only sequester the rainwater, but also to turn on and turn off valves automatically to have it flow from one place to another. As I understand it, when there is a lot of rain in one place the valves open automatically. Also businesses and groups that own large paved over areas like parking lots or expressways, can be given an incentive to keep that rainwater where it falls rather than have it all flow into our sewers.
Lastly, I discovered that our whole water system infrastructure is antiquated and that the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County cannot agree on ways to work together.
ACTION: Tell our city council we need to save money and reuse our rainwater and incentivize large surfaces like parking lots to reuse water. Then sewer water goes through our treatment plants. Call: Meeka Owens, Climate, Environment, Infrastructure: (513) 352-3466 or email:
CityCouncil@cincinnati-oh.gov (goes to all council members). Thank you and remember that every phone call and email counts.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this commentary piece do not necessarily the express the opinions of The Cincinnati Herald.