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Sewage Disposal Systems


Proper sewage disposal is necessary to protect human health, welfare, and the economy. The contaminated liquids and solids from sewers may back flow into streets, properties, businesses, and homes, or overflow into bodies of water, underground or on the surface. Sanitary sewage may contain bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms, as well as a variety of chemicals, including heavy metals and pharmaceuticals that can cause disease. Industrial waste coming from businesses and industry, mixed into the public sewage in the sewers, can contain a huge variety of chemicals and other substances which can affect the health of individuals. Correction of the sewerage system problems constitutes a huge financial burden on communities throughout the country (See endnotes 3, 28, 38).

Each year, there are over 40,000 sanitary sewer overflows, the majority of which are from combined sewer/sanitary sewer overflows during large wet weather events, with a great potential for disease and environmental degradation. Public wastewater collection in the United States is made up of over 16,000 different sewer systems used by over 190 million people with 740,000 miles of gravity sewers and 60,000 miles of pressure mains. There is an estimated additional 500,000 miles of private sewer laterals. The estimated cost per year over a 20-year period to correct the infrastructure for sewerage gathering systems is between $12 billion and $21 billion, whereas about $3.3 billion are actually being spent annually.

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