Shocking Sewage Statistics (and unrelenting puns)

By Davies Hood, Induron Executive Vice President

Most anything can be proven using statistics. I recently ran across a couple of quotes that essentially say just that:

“Be able to analyze statistics, which can be used to support or undercut almost any argument.”  Marilyn vos Savant

“I can prove anything by statistics except the truth.” George Canning


“Anything people put in quotes and include on Facebook is automatically taken as the gospel truth.” George Washington (it’s possible that I just made that one up)

I was startled recently by a few statistics that were used in Ted J. Rulseh’s letter from the editor in the January edition of Municipal Sewer & Water titled “Second Rate?”

Rulseh brings up the fact that, “Every year, sewer overflows contaminate U.S. waters with 860 BILLION gallons of untreated sewage, an amount that could fill 1.3 million Olympic-size swimming pools or cover the entire state of Pennsylvania with one inch of sewage.”

As a resident of Jefferson County, Alabama, site of the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy that all started because of overflows of untreated sewage, I have learned a thing or two about the “stench” of this problem, if you’ll pardon the awful pun.

In and of itself, untreated sewage flowing into our rivers in such quantities just doesn’t “smell” right (now I just can’t help myself).

However, when this statistic is coupled with the fact that, “total public investment in water infrastructure as a share of the economy is estimated to have fallen by over one-third since peak levels of investment in 1975,” it becomes alarming and should be generating more discussion “on Main Street.” All of this during a recession when national unemployment levels are hovering around 10%? Sheesh. Gimme a break.

Rulseh’s last statistic compares the number of jobs created by water/sewer infrastructure investment to those of more popular job-creating options, such as payroll tax holidays, across-the-board tax cuts and temporary business tax cuts. This last stat really ties it all together… a true need, a good investment and a sense of urgency.

In conclusion, we as a nation are faced with many tough decisions, including when is exactly the right time to invest in our crumbling water infrastructure? I agree with Ted Rulseh that a great time to address this is right now.

Read more “Statistics Quotes,” including quotes from statesman Henry Clay, author Mark Twain, astronaut Alan Shepard and baseball great Tom Seaver

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