Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

"Insignificant impact:" raw sewage in Underwood Creek

Environment, Underwood Creek

When a sewer pipe broke behind Underwood School last Thursday, spilling 9,000 gallons from the toilets of Brookfield, Elm Grove, West Allis, and Wauwatosa into the creek, no one seemed much concerned.

It wasn't a violation because it wasn't a rain-induced overflow. And since it would have "insignificant impact" on the Menomonee River into which it flows, it was no big deal.

According to the Journal Sentinel, "Little harm was done to the environment. . . Underwood Creek is lined with concrete in that area so there would have been no impact on fish or other aquatic life."

You'd think the concrete protected the fish and other aquatic life. Instead, it has turned the creek into an inhospitable ditch that breeds mainly bacteria and algae. It no longer filters the sediment we'd rather not think about.

 Still, ducks swim and have their babies there. Deer and wildlife drink the effluent, and so do neighborhood dogs when they get a chance. An occasional crayfish still manages to exist along the banks. Kids wade in it when they think no one is looking, at least until they grow old enough to know what they might be wading in.

 If nothing else, a creek full of sewage stinks. And all those little insignificant impacts add up to eventual significance. But apparently the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District hasn't even begun to flirt with concepts like "zero defects." How can they, if every 9,000 gallons of raw sewage in someone else's back yard is "insignificant"?


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