Monday, April 28, 2008

Non-Point: Easier to Shoot Seagulls

The proposal to reduce "non-point" pollution doesn't mention a major source: seagulls.

...Nonpoint pollution includes soil, road salt, pet and livestock waste, oil and grease from vehicles, garbage, fertilizers and pesticides, and other substances washed off the landscape by rain and melting snow. Much of this pollutant load flows unrestrained across fields or through storm sewers to streams, rivers and Lake Michigan, according to a recently completed water quality management plan for the Milwaukee watersheds.

Fecal coliform is one of the indicators of 'non-point' pollution in the Milwaukee harbor. With several thousand seagulls doing what comes naturally on the beaches, streets, and breakwaters, you'd think somebody would mention the damn pests.


Fully 90% of the fecal coliform bacteria in the waterways run off the land, and the bulk of it comes from urban and suburban communities, the planning commission's study found.

It's Rover and KittyFritz who are doing the deed.

The commission estimates it will cost $243.3 million to address the largest sources of rural nonpoint pollution. Adequate manure storage for livestock: $47 million. Converting marginal cropland acres that now easily erode or flood to wetland or grassland: $72 million. Expanding county oversight and regulation of failed septic systems: $113.6 million.

Urban nonpoint controls will be equally expensive; the commission estimates the cost at $239.3 million.

So about $550 million or so. Not to mention cost to individual homeowners...

Among possible "green infrastructure" projects for cities are: rooftop gardens to soak up rain; disconnecting downspouts from sewers and allowing the water to flow onto rain gardens or collect in barrels for later use; grass-lined swales between buildings and roads and porous pavement on parking lots to enable more rain to soak into soil rather than flowing to the nearest stream.

One wonders how long a "porous pavement parking-lot" will last in a typical freeze/thaw cycle.

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