Modern waste water treatment systems protect our water

Earth Day has come and gone as have the editorials urging us to protect the Earth. Clean water needs protecting. We all learned in school as kids about the water cycle and how water circulates and is cleaned through this process. Do you know that the amount of water on earth is fairly constant? There is no water in outer space. As the space probes go out to look for life on other planets and galaxies, what is the one piece of evidence that life might exists? Is there water? Our bodies are 60 percent water. All life depends on water, the animals, plants, you, me and our children. But it has to be clean, unpolluted water or it can cause sickness and death. A polluted planet or one without water is a dead planet. As the population grows the only solutions we have for keeping our water clean and unpolluted is the development of new technologies.

Today there are so many people and domesticated animals that we are polluting our water with waste. The old technologies of septic systems, never intended for highly populated areas, simply do not work. New regulations in Ohio require at least 1 to 2 acres of land for every single family household. Of course the new laws grandfather in the older septic tank technology if they work. But the 2012 study of Devola, which has just been upheld by the Ohio EPA, finds that the systems in Devola are not working. Therefore sewers must be put in place to connect to the newer technologies that are only available in modern waste water treatment plants.

The human population and urban areas are growing so rapidly that we are moving out into what was originally farming and forested areas to build our homes. Subdivisions in rural areas disconnected from urban sewer systems came to depend on septic systems constructed on individual small plots of land that are too small for the simple septic systems to work properly. Also, people operating these systems under the concept of private property right do so under a misconception about the nature of water.

Water is not a commodity that can be owned by an individual person. It is not private property but what is called a public good. It flows over not only your land but your neighbors land and into the rivers and lakes at a distance or underground into the aquafer that the feeds our water wells. Even small amounts of pollution from individual systems when coming together in public waterways magnify and become huge polluters. Remember the algae bloom of last summer. It affected the whole system of two rivers.

Every single individual older system cannot be monitored so there are forms of testing to determine if the areas systems are working or not. And the testing in Devola in 2012 and more recently at the request of the county commissioners still finds dangerous pollutants, for example E coli in Tupper Creek. Experts warn that this is a dangerous situation not only for you and your children but for the larger community of our neighborhood, city, and state, because of the nature of water. We all need the water that flows and rains on everyone and everywhere.

We must act immediately on this situation. We are part of the interdependent web of all life. It takes a whole community, everyone working together to protect our precious resources – our water. We must take the responsibility to protect the Earth, it is the only one we have.

This is not the time to wait and see as the county commissioners suggest in the April 2, Marietta Times article. The longer we wait the more expensive it will be to make the changes mandated by the Ohio EPA plus there are fines already accumulating. I know for sure my sewer bill in Marietta is going up as are all the sewer bills of the citizens of Marietta as well as those household that have sewers in Devola. This reflects the rising cost of modernizing our local sewage facility to meet the needs of both the city and the county. In 2011 the county commissioners, rather than build a sewage facility which would have cost millions of dollars, requested and signed an agreement with the city to have the city handle the waste of Devola, Oak Grove and Reno in a modernized waste treatment plant. This agreement would help share the cost of the upgrade to the waste treatment plant with the modern technologies needed to protect our water. Today the county commissioners will not honor the agreement. But the longer we wait not only will it cost more but it is likely that this pollution will affect our water system. We need action on this and we need the county commissioners to honor the legal contract it has with the city to correct this situation. If you are a Marietta resident you need to be aware of this situation. If you don’t want your sewer bills to go up, or our rivers and water wells polluted with harmful bacteria: E.coli, green algae, etc.; because our county commissioners will not act in a timely manner then you can voice your disapproval. Marietta is part of the county and therefore citizens of Marietta vote for county commissioners. As a Marietta, Washington County citizen you can use the power of the ballot box to vote for candidates that are willing to take action on this situation.

Jane Tumas-Serna lives in Marietta.