Dirty Water comes Clean!

7.18.14-BEETS-SEWaste_IMG_7536Have you ever wondered what happens to the dirty water from your shower, laundry and toilet after it goes down the drain? What about the runoff from lawns and gardens, and rainwater and car washing? On Friday, July 18, 2014 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) found out on a trip to the Southeast Water Treatment Plant in the Bayview district of San Francisco.
San Francisco is the only coastal city in California with a combined sewer system that collects and treats both wastewater and stormwater in the same network of pipes. That means the rain that runs off your roofs and street gets treated at the three plants in San Francisco just like the wastewater that goes down your drain every time you flush the toilet, take a shower, brush your teeth, do your laundry, or wash the dishes. Cleaning stormwater is just as important as cleaning wastewater because of the street pollutants that wash into the sewer system Imagine all the motor oil, pesticides, metals, and other street litter that you see on the street. They all go into the sewer system when it rains.
Together San Francisco’s 1,000 mile-long combined sewer system and three treatment facilities help reduce pollution in the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. However, you still need to be careful about products that you dump down the drain or use in your garden. These same harsh chemicals can still possibly harm the environment and your family’s health.
Our BEETS walked through acres of transport/storage facilities, sewers, and five major pump stations. This plant is the largest and oldest wastewater facility, responsible for treating nearly 80% of the City’s flow. It treats 57 million gallons per day (MGD) of wastewater and handles 160 wet tons of biosolids each day. We got to meet the scientists who analysis the water and the workers who manage the tanks and pipe line system. A interesting day with great exercise walking! 7.18.14-BEETS-SEWaste_IMG_7542