Philadelphia's Newest Park Is Built on Top of a Sewage Overflow Tank

Venice Island, which officially opened this month in Philadelphia, has all the amenities you might expect from a nice city park—gardens, basketball court, amphitheater—but also something unexpected: a 4 million gallon sewage overflow tank. And you know what? A park built on top of the sewer is a very good thing. » 10/17/14 3:56pm 10/17/14 3:56pm

Chicago was raised over 4 feet in the 19th century to build its sewer

In the middle of the 19th century, Chicago embarked on a quest to literally lift itself out of the mud. Water couldn't drain from the low-lying city, so its streets became impassable swamps. The most reasonable solution, Chicago decided, was just to raise the whole goddamn city by 4 to 14 feet. » 10/15/14 1:34pm 10/15/14 1:34pm

Did A "Field of Human Excrement" By The White House Kill A President?

If you remember President William Henry Harrison from U.S. history class at all, then you probably remember him as the poor fellow who died from pneumonia a month after delivering his inaugural address in freezing rain. Except was it really pneumonia after all? A New York Times article suggests a different theory, and… » 4/02/14 5:40pm 4/02/14 5:40pm

An Inside Tour of San Francisco's Sewage Treatment Plant

If you have ever been to San Francisco, then some part of you—or some former part of you—has almost certainly passed through the city's Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant. But, considering how utterly vital it is to the city, the wastewater plant is also very much invisible, tucked away in a neighborhood no tourist… » 3/20/14 3:00pm 3/20/14 3:00pm

Is Human Pee the Future of Fertilizer?

Among the things I found mortifying about my parents when I was a teenager was their habit of leaving buckets of pee in the bathroom. Instead of flushing all that phosphorous- and nitrogen-rich urine down the toilet, they saved it for our backyard vegetable garden. Pee as fertilizer has since—contrary to everything my… » 1/14/14 4:40pm 1/14/14 4:40pm

How Diet Soda Can Be Used to Track Sewage

Fake sugar found in Ontario's tap water can be traced back to… sewage. Artificial sweeteners originating in diet soft drinks and foods survive a pretty remarkable journey through our bodies, down the toilet, through the wastewater treatment plant, into rivers, and, finally, into the water flowing out of the tap all… » 12/18/13 10:40am 12/18/13 10:40am

Watch a Weather Man Get Covered in What's Probably Raw Sewage

Look, if you're getting pelted in the face with bad-smelling, bad-tasting "organic material," maybe it's time to pack up and take it to the studio, yeah? Poor Tucker Barnes learned that the hard way in Ocean City, MD, where he got covered head-to-toe in sea foam probably caused by raw sewage backup from Hurricane… » 8/28/11 12:52am 8/28/11 12:52am