In the wake of Hurricane Florence, a lot of attention was paid to the 50 or so overflowing hog lagoons in eastern North Carolina.

That’s a big deal, to be sure. But the real environmental disaster was from a decidedly less sexy source: municipal sewage systems.

Nearly half of local sewage systems in areas hit by the storm were overwhelmed, sending nearly 88 million gallons of wastewater into rivers, lakes and streams, according to data presented to the General Assembly. Nearly 200 separate systems were affected in about 600 different incidents.

Didn’t hear about it? That’s unsurprising. But at least somebody is watching. Sen. Andy Wells, a Hickory Republican, sounded the alarm bells on the issue in an email sent to constituents this week.

N.C. Sen. Andy Wells

When we talk about our state and nation’s crumbling infrastructure, we usually refer to roads and bridges. This is a great reminder that our water and wastewater are just as important — and just as prone to problems during a natural disaster.

The General Assembly has sent money to local governments to help repair these systems. We’ll see if there’s something preventative to be done for the next storm.

Cover image via the city of Albemarle.


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