Significant technological advances have been developed and implemented to contain and treat human sewage entering streams. The problem, however, remains a significant one in most stream ecosystems.
the Wheeling Creek watershed, two sources of sewage input are particularly apparent. The
first of these, combined sewage outflows (CSOs), affects nearly every municipality across
the United States. The CSOs carry both sewage and stormwater runoff to the sewage
treatment plant. During a heavy downpour, however, stormwater runoff overwhelms the sewage
treatment plant. Consequently, a system of gates opens and releases the excess runoff into
nearby rivers and streams. The problem occurs because sewage is mixed with stormwater that
is allowed to enter rivers and streams. CSOs are major sources of sewage in watersheds
that are served by sewage treatment plants. Left: Combined stormwater outflow leaking raw sewage at Site E. This CSO has
since been repaired. Photo: Courtesy
of Dr. Ben Stout
Not all municipalities have
sewage lines and sewage treatment plants. Therefore, many home owners in smaller
communities and rural areas must provide their own septic systems. Some home owners have
leaking septic systems and some pipe sewage directly into streams. Right: Untreated household sewage entering
Little Wheeling Creek. Photo:
Courtesy of Dr. Ben Stout
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