Thursday, December 28, 2006

You Are What You Eat. And So, to a Lesser Extent, is Whatever Waterway Into Which your Sewage Outfalls.

Super quick post this morning, I just found this pretty fascinating - apparently scientists in Seattle have been studying treated sewage at a local wastewater plant & have found that there are measurable spikes in seasonal spices like cinnamon & vanilla. .

It's not just cookies, either - apparently all that Starbucks has a measurable effect on Sound water, too. Says the article:

"King County researchers several years took caffeine measurements to try to learn whether the city's coffee drinking habits had any effect on the sound. Caffeine was found in more than 160 of 216 samples in water as deep as 640 feet."

Wow. I know that our waste never really goes away, no matter how much we'd like to relax into the out of sight out of mind mentality, but that's really something to think about. Vivid statistic. Might bring up some less-than-sugarplummy images - but is that such a bad thing?

Stencilling storm drains with the message "Goes to the Sea" is getting to be more and more common - it's inexpensive, it's a project that volunteers of all ages can do, and I bet it does make people think a little bit. I hope so, anyways. I think I first saw stencils featuring that message after my parents had returned to Hawaii after my father retired from the Navy. I haven't seen any here in New York City yet, that was one of dozens of suggestions that were offered at the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan workshop I attended not long ago, so they may eventually start popping up around Brooklyn - only with a striper or a bluefish instead of a humuhumunukunukuapua'a.

Perhaps toilet lids should be marked with that message, too.

BTW if you have stumbled across this page looking for suggestions on how to organize a storm drain stencilling project, here are some guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. Good luck & have fun!

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