Millions of Gallons of Sewage Spill Into the City’s Waterways Every Time It Rains Half an Inch

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NEW YORK- AUGUST 14:  Kayaker Felix Apfaltrer paddles on the Hudson River in lower Manhattan August 14, 2002 in New York City. A group of kayakers started a free kayak clinic on the river, introducing thousands of city dwellers to the sport over the last year.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK- AUGUST 14: Kayaker Felix Apfaltrer paddles on the Hudson River in lower Manhattan August 14, 2002 in New York City. A group of kayakers started a free kayak clinic on the river, introducing thousands of city dwellers to the sport over the last year. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Photo: Spencer Platt/2002 Getty Images

The North River Wastewater Treatment Plant is no longer spewing toxic sewage into the water, but it turns out that our local rivers are pretty gross, even in non-emergency situations. In New York City, unlike most cities, rainfall and sewage from homes and businesses flow into the same pipes. Consequently, when the city receives at least half an inch of rainfall, some of the sewer's contents have to be diverted directly into the rivers to avoid overwhelming the city's waste treatment plants. It's nothing to be alarmed about, though, Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Cas Holloway tells DNA Info. "There was a time when dumping the sewage into the river — that was considered sewage treatment," he says. There was also a time when we used leeches to balance the humors, but we grew out of that too.

Raw Sewage in Hudson a 'Continuous Problem,' Experts Say [DNA Info]