Do you know what happens to the water that runs down your drain? If you live in Cincinnati, it flows into a sewer system that was built over 125 years ago and needs some upgrades. Each year 11.5 billion gallons of raw sewage mixed with stormwater flow into the waterways in our region during combined sewer overflows. Combined sewers (40% of our current system) mix stormwater with sanitary sewage, with overflow pipes opening into streams to keep extra sewage out of basements and roads.
Diagram of Combined Sewer System (learn more)
In a typical year, 11.5 billion gallons of raw sewage mixed with storm water can flow into the waterways in our region during heavy rainfall events. We now have so much rain running off impervious surfaces like parking lots and roofs, that combined sewer overflows happen all too frequently, adding pollution to streams and rivers. You wouldn’t want to swim in what you flushed down the toilet, and aquatic plants and animals don’t want to either!
In order to reduce the amount of water pollution flowing from sewers to rivers, the Metropolitan Sewer District has implemented Project Groundwork – a community-based program to reduce or eliminate sewage overflows into local rivers and streams and sewage backups into basements.
You too can take action to keep raw sewage out of the Ohio River. Start by not running the dishwasher or washing machine while it is raining. Install a rain barrel. Dig up part of your lawn to plant a rain garden. You’ll find all these ideas, and some higher tech ones like green roofs and pervious pavement, at the Green Learning Station.