Thursday, October 12, 2023

Open Sewers Are Really Bad

Three months ago, I was in India with my family for summer vacation. While I wasn't expecting it to be a paradise, nothing could have prepared me for the absolute filth of the beast. I had glimpsed it when I was there last year. In fact, I can't remember a time (in anyone's life) when it wasn't there. This disgusting creature, and I really mean disgusting, had been here for decades. The monster had been originated and fostered by the people of the city, who had nurtured this horrid creature until it grew to the size of a giant. Bits of trash jumped out of the monster's spit as if they were trying to escape their fate. So there it was, breathing down my neck as I stood at the gate of my childhood home. I could smell the excrement. After I slowly turned to face it, I became at a loss for words when I laid my eyes upon it. Fear filled my heart. Frankenstein was no comparison to this monster's horridness.

“Omkar, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore,” I said to myself (I'm not from Kansas). The monster was none other than the miles of open sewers that lay across the town of Chandrapur, and in a broad sense, across the world.
 
Open sewers are a major public health and environmental issue in many parts of the world. They are defined as the uncovered and unprotected channels that carry wastewater, human excreta, and other waste products from households, industries, and commercial establishments to the nearest water body or drainage system. In the coming months, I will update this post with an upcoming documentary, informative video, and research paper I have relating to this topic. Please stay tuned for those, as they will cover my personal experience more thoroughly. I aim to generally cover open sewers in this post.

The negative consequences of open sewers are manifold. They can cause water pollution, soil contamination, and air pollution. The wastewater that flows through open sewers is often untreated or partially treated, which can lead to the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. The stench emanating from open sewers can also cause respiratory problems and other health issues.

Open sewers also have a significant environmental impact. They can contaminate groundwater sources, which can lead to the depletion of freshwater resources. The wastewater that flows through open sewers can also contribute to the eutrophication of water bodies, which can lead to the growth of harmful algal blooms.

To mitigate the negative consequences of open sewers, several measures can be taken. One such measure is to construct sewerage systems that are designed to collect and transport wastewater in a safe and efficient manner. Another measure is to promote sanitation practices such as the use of toilets and proper disposal of waste products.

In addition to these measures, it is also important to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) before constructing any new sewerage system or making changes to an existing one. An EIA is a process that evaluates the potential environmental impacts of a proposed project or development activity. It involves identifying potential impacts, assessing their significance, and proposing measures to mitigate them.

The terminology used in an EIA includes several technical terms such as baseline conditions, impact assessment, mitigation measures, and cumulative impacts. The formulas used in an EIA depend on the type of impact being assessed. For example, the formula for calculating the concentration of pollutants in water bodies is different from the formula for calculating the concentration of pollutants in air.

Open sewers are a serious public health and environmental issue that requires urgent attention. Mitigating their negative consequences requires a combination of measures such as constructing sewerage systems, promoting sanitation practices, and conducting environmental impact assessments. Technical expertise in impact assessment terminology and formulas is also necessary for effective mitigation.

-Omkar M.


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