Sewer systems were first built, on a grand scale, in classical Rome. Sending waste underneath the city was about being “civilized.” Out of sight, out of mind.
That was 2,500 years ago. Today, the sewage flowing under our cities is a hazardous mix of billions of litres of water, combined with unknown quantities of chemicals, solvents, heavy metals, human waste and food.
Where does it all go?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that more than 50 percent of the seven million dry tons of sewage sludge produced nationally ends up on farmland—where it’s used to grow food.
Thankfully, USDA organic standards prohibit the use of sewage sludge on organic farms—a regulation OCA fought for, and won, nearly two decades ago. We’ve also fought efforts to sell sewage sludge as “organic” fertilizer.
But we still have a huge problem, as this new documentary reveals. Do we also have solutions?