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[GreenYes] Food debris belongs outside the pipe.


I see two issues with your post.

The first is whether sewers are too water-intensive. I agree with you and Helen on this, with two caveats. The first is that the over-centralization of wastewater treatment infrastructure compounds the problem, since discharge points are centralized rather than spread geographically, reducing more decentralized recharge zones. I believe this is often the result of improper cost accounting by the POTWs, masking the appropriate break-even for a larger number of more decentralized plants (versus more complicated collection systems for a centralized one). Another caveat is that for certain regions, the use of water in sewers is not such a big problem, and that other uses (often heavily subsidized agricultural consumption) is a larger driver of shortages.

The second issue involves where food wastes go. Here, I disagree with your logic that if you can't guarantee all wastes are treated, food waste should be diverted. It is a marginal cost/marginal benefit issue. Systems that are having problems with improper discharge will still have those problems even if food waste is banned. While it is true that the improper discharge of food waste would be a pollution problem, I'd need some convincing that the increment it contributes to pathogens and pollution during release events -- relative to the much larger volume standard sewage -- warrants a completely separate management system.


Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02140
Tel: 617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

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>>> Alan Muller <amuller@no.address> 08/09/06 11:34AM >>>

At 11:06 AM 8/9/2006 -0400, Doug Koplow wrote:
>First, I own no stock in Dispose-All or other machines that chop
>food waste to the sewer system.

What type of argument is this? Did I say anything about stock
ownership? I mentioned Disposall just to stay away from Insinkerator...

>However, I'm curious to learn more about the nature of the sewage
>disposal problem. In my experience, most raw sewage hits rivers
>during wet weather events, when massive volumes of runoff overwhelm
>sewage treatment plants; or due to undetected or uncorrected illegal
>discharges. These problems would not be affected by whether or not
>some food waste is in the system. Similarly, most problems with
>effluent and sludge quality seem to be due to industrial discharges
>of chemicals, not the inclusion of a wider array of organic,
>biodegradable wastes. Is the experience in DE different?

Don't think I agree with any of the above. Seems apparent to me that
if untreated sewage is discharged (and the reasons and excuses for
doing this are many), and food waste is in the sewage, untreated food
waste will be discharged, and at the very least this will contribute
BOD (biological oxygen demand). To put this another way for
non-sewer-wonks: yes, the food waste is somewhat biodegradable (I
don't know about bones and such) but if this degradation (oxidation)
occurs in the "receiving waters" it will take up oxygen and
contribute to water quality problems, fish kills, etc. Low oxygen
levels are a common water quality problem associated with sewage discharges.....

So I guess I am saying that unless one can show that the sewer system
in question will treat ALL the sewage, ALL the time, and has adequate
capability to do so, and unless one can show that the "receiving
waters" meet all water quality standards (rare), then unnecessary
load should be kept out of the system.... Not everybody agrees that
there are good alternatives to, say, flushing feces down the drain,
but we all know there are good alternatives to flushing food waste.

This is an interesting subject. The more I think about it the more
opposed to disposalls I seem to be getting.



>Doug Koplow
>Earth Track, Inc.
>2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
>Cambridge, MA 02140
>Tel: 617/661-4700
>Fax: 617/354-0463
>This message, and all attachments thereto, is for the designated recipient
>only and may contain privileged, proprietary, or otherwise private
>information. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender
>immediately and delete the original. Any other use of the email by you
>is prohibited.
> >>> Alan Muller <amuller@no.address> 08/09/06 08:27AM >>>
>At 09:38 PM 8/8/2006 -0700, Helen Spiegelman wrote:
> >My impression is that there is impending a paradigm shift in sewage
> >treatment towards less water-intensive approaches. Anyone read Lester
> >Brown's Plan B 2.1? Rather than turn food into liquid waste, might we end
> >up turning liquid waste into solid waste?
> >
> >H.
>I think there is a sort of historical/technical revisionism going on
>here. We always heard about how great sewers are. Now we are
>beginning to see that we replaced stinky outhouses and cesspits and
>honey wagons with massive surface and groundwater pollution. (In
>2006, Wilmington Delaware still dumps around half a billion gallons
>per year of untreated sewage into rivers....)
>The "disposall" people seem curiously silent on the need for better
>sewage treatment, even as they want us to use their products to add
>loads to the systems.... When they show up in Delaware and help us
>fight this battle I will be more receptive to their arguments on this list.
>Alan Muller
>Alan Muller, Executive Director
>Green Delaware
>Box 69
>Port Penn, DE 19731 USA
>fax (302)836-3005
Alan Muller, Executive Director
Green Delaware
Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731 USA
fax (302)836-3005

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