Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MSD on the South Side

Our storm water and sanitary infrastructure is a complex system of separated and combined lines. There are a couple of large projects taking place near my home just south of Tower Grove Park. The first involves replacing, repairing and upgrading lines that, in the future, will separate sanitary and storm water.
The water entering these street side inlets will drain to a stream. It might be the case that they pass through a waste water treatment plant on the way - at least for the time being. All water ends up in a stream, sometimes it takes a circuitous path.
Lots of precast concrete pipe is stocked and utilized in the rebuilding project. Streets are closed, large trenches dug and many hours of labor are needed to fit the new stuff. These are big projects, using big equipment and they test the patience of nearby residents. Still, it is an important part of taking care of issues that are very serious environmental concern. Our rates may rise but it is an essential part of being a responsible community.
The images below are from a pervious alley project just east of the larger pipe project. A concrete perimeter and the relaying of alley pavers on a specially designed substrate will work to slow water down before it enters the combined system. The goal is to prevent overload and untreated waste water from entering our streams. This is part of a multi-pronged approach to a big problem.
I lifted the grate at the end of the alley to reveal the intersection of the pervious alley and the existing system. The water in the alley will filter its way down, slowly, into the green pipe. Eventually much of it will discharge here and then return to the existing MSD system. The goal is to have water from a large rain event have a minimal impact on an already challenged system. It is one part of a solution.

Individuals can help with rain gardens and rain barrel usage on their own properties.