Rain Next Week Could Turn Marin Creeks Toxic

By Matt Baume
|  Monday, Mar 7, 2011  |  Updated 4:00 PM PDT
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Rain Next Week Could Turn Marin Creeks Toxic

HughE Dillon

Water shooting up from the sewer at Chestnut & Juniper Streets. But I love how the guy is walking by has just given up on getting wet and just accepts it. (Taken with a BB, so it's poor quality)

It may have been sunny today, but there's yet more rain on the horizon. After a sunny stretch, we could see showers late in the weekend or early next week. And when it rains, it's pours ... raw sewage.

At least, that's the situation in Marin, where the Bay Keeper Association says that three million gallons of untreated sewage has spilled into local creeks this season.

The problem is twofold. First, Marin's sewage system is overburdened during the rainy season, just like many other cities with Mediterranean climates. It's dry most of the year, but the rains fill the pipes to capacity until they overflow.

The second problem is that Marin doesn't capture and treat the water in its creeks, so anything that washes into a waterway will wind up in the bay and the ocean.

Drano, E. coli, cholera -- they could all be in there, according to the San Rafael Patch. Pesticides, particularly from golf courses, are a major source of pollution.

The solution is complex. Cities like Marin will have to pursue low-impact design, which channels stormwater into more productive destinations like gardens and cisterns for later use. It may be a little extra work, but it's better than wading through water that's dirtier than a BART seat.

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