Rain and Rising Sea Levels Sending Sewage Into Charleston Streets and Ponds

"Environmental advocates threaten to sue within weeks if Charleston Water does not present a plan to prevent hundreds of wastewater overflows."

"When rain comes down in some parts of Charleston, S.C., sewage comes up. In the neighborhood of West Ashley, storms trigger waste overflows so often into a pond near Nell Postell’s home that she has a wet-weather routine based on forecasts: she buys surgical masks, clears her garden and then listens for the sewage to “gush”: her signal to phone local authorities.

“All I’ve got to do is tell them the sewer is in the pond. I don’t even have to give them my address,” said Postell, a longtime resident. “They know my address.” Overflows run down a gully next to Postell’s house, over her yard and into the pond, leaving visible human feces, noted in pollution reports as “floatables.”

“It smells like you’re living in a portaloo,” Postell said.

When the rain stops, she said, a team from Charleston Water Systems arrives with disinfectant. Sometimes the workers swill it from buckets over her yard and the pond. When the overflow is particularly voluminous, they spray chemicals from a tanker truck into the water and onto its banks near wax myrtles and oak trees. “I wonder if it’s a health problem,” Postell, an avid gardener, said. “I don’t know whether my ground is contaminated.”"

Daniel Shailer reports for Inside Climate News April 7, 2024.

Source: Inside Climate News, 04/08/2024