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Go With The Flow!

February 28, 2011

I remember being in the Bay Area while the combined cities were offering all sorts of incentives to replace toilets with low-flow devices in order to save water in the area.  We were relentlessly whipped into a no-water frenzy as the locals groaned about the overuse of water in the system.  So over a decade or so, the entire complex was converted to lower-use water habits.  Hey, this is great.  And for once, we’re seeing the consequences of environmental action come right back to the bigots that pushed it.  Okay, that was mean, but it was fun to write… via the Chronicle and Matier and Ross:

San Francisco‘s big push for low-flow toilets has turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink.

Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months.

Oh, yea.  Part of the reason that sewer systems work is becuase they allow water to carry the sludge to the processing plants.  When you don’t have enough water?  Well, then the sewer system raises its own type of stink.  So great, you’ve saved 20 million gallons of water.  Now you’re considering what to solve the problem?

Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite – better known as bleach – to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city’s treated water before it’s dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

There you go.  The certain segment of environmentalists that likely started this drive in the first place are now working for more “friendly” (i.e. “expensive”) solutions other than bleach to solve the problem.  The wonderful part is that it’s a problem they created by not looking at the whole solution in the first place.

I’m always happy to see ways to save water or reduce energy consumption, at least as long as we all think through the implications of what that means.  This is an example of racing to a goal without actually looking at all the results of the action.  So perhaps now we’ll be looking for new ways to reduce water flow in the system in ways that make sense in the greater scheme of things?  Well, doubtful.  But at least we can see an example of what action without consideration really does to the environment.

Updated 3/1: Hot Air picked this up.

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