Soundvision, Combined Sewer Outlets, Green Job Security and Oysters For All

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stormdrain_300CSO’s are old sewers that are designed to carry sewage to treatment plants during dry weather but to bypass the treatment plants and empty directly into local waterways when it rains, so the plants don’t get flooded and damaged. Some of the 6,000 jobs that Brady referred to (back) would be for eliminating CSO’s. But it’s far from easy or quick.

Take a look, for example, at the effort it will take to solve the CSO problem in Bridgeport alone (Bridgeport is one of seven cities in Connecticut with CSO’s; New York City has them too). Here’s an excerpt from the Long Island Sound Study’sSound Update newsletter of fall 2010:

Full separation of [Bridgeport’s] stormwater and wastewater systems is projected to cost $560 million and take decades. The city has been making progress, though, and has already completed seven projects to achieve this goal with a total expenditure of $50 million. The next project scheduled will achieve separation in the Downtown, eastern portion of the South End, and northern portion of Black Rock. This project will cost $25 million, is projected to be completed in 2017, and will solve most flooding and CSO problems with a solution that (after construction) will be below ground and quite intensive.

Think of what that means. By 2017, after six more years of work, they will have spent $75 million -- and will still have $485 million worth of work left to complete. That’s daunting.

fishing_boats_300But also think about what it means from another perspective. David Carey, the director of the bureau of aquaculture in Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture, pointed out in Bridgeport that 45 oyster companies in Connecticut operate 110 oyster boats and harvest an estimated 300,000 bushels of oysters a year. Because of all the rain that fell over the weekend and on Monday morning, the CSO’s were overflowing into the Sound, carrying raw sewage. As a result, none of those oyster boats were allowed to harvest oysters.

In other words, it’s not that environmental regulations were hindering the economy; rather, the lack of environmental protection was putting people out of work.

The only conclusion I can draw is that the Republicans who want to be president are wrong: a healthy environment is good for the economy; cleaning up pollution creates jobs; pollution eliminates jobs.


Tom Andersen is the author of This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound (Yale University Press). He blogs at