Just found out via the State of Washington that I and my coworkers are not eligible for the Coronavirus vaccine at this time.
We work directly with raw sewage before it even gets to the treatment facilities.
We're not being considered healthcare workers despite what we do being fucking imperative.
There's evidence that SARS-CoV-1 spread via aerosols from wastewater. It's suspected, but not entirely verified, that SARS-CoV-2 can spread in the same fashion.
Three of three of our treatment plants have people either out from Covid or quarantining as exposed persons, as well as one of two of our offsite teams.
We're exposed to this whenever we enter a wetwell or open a pump to remove the very random things flush down the drain. But nope. Not essential enough.
COVID, Anger, Sewers
Casual reminder that both the City of Seattle and King County are under a consent decree with the EPA in regard to repeated combined sewer overflows both into freshwater and saltwater, which not only causes odors and makes water unsightly, but causes pollution that directly harms both indigenous and settler communities along Puget Sound.
COVID, Anger, Sewers
I should however define what a combined sewer overflow, oft referred to as a CSO, is.
A combined sewer overflow is any discharge of combined stormwater and sanitary sewage to a body of water. Sanitary sewage is everything that goes down the toilet, or drain, in addition to industrial wastewater. Stormwater is basically rainwater, or snowmelt, that is carried through the same pipes toward a treatment plant.
Ideally this problem would be averted by having dedicated, separate systems for stormwater and sanitary sewage, but in a lot of large municipalities, this is incredibly cost-prohibitive, and interest in dealing with it is basically limited to folks who either bother to give a damn about the environment, or folks who work on these systems.
Though I know from personal experience in other municipalities that interest in dealing with it, regardless of who is in power, is limited to folks who want quick solutions done in the name of Oh My Gods Just Fucking Do Something
Wanna guess how that goes? I've never seen as many things abandoned in place as I have when I started working in this field. Big goddamn moneypits that are operationally useless and simply thrown there so somebody can say "Hey, we did *something!*"
Power and emergency backup generator failures knocking influent pumps at a plant's headworks offline? Pumps that basically send sewage to the top of the process?
Let's just put in two huge pumps that can push that water to the start of the process
what do you mean we need power to run the aeration basin blowers (to supply dissolved oxygen) and the UV system?
Every drop of untreated sewage that pollutes a body of water is one more sign that we're not tackling the problem seriously enough.
But that also doesn't touch on the other problem: Pollutants that make it through our currently existing treatment processes, either flushed directly, or among the very wastes we excrete.
... Hell it's unavoidable, I do it when I bother to be patent with my SSRIs. Not a lot of research out there into dealing with treating those, though!
Fun fact! You can see which points in the combined King County-Seattle sewerage system are overflowing at any given point in time at https://kingcounty.gov/services/environment/wastewater/cso-status.aspx