Chicago Sewage Overflows Caused by Mismanagement

Chicago Sewage Overflows Caused by Mismanagement
July 23, 2014

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)

Global warming is not the reason why Chicago’s 1800s-era sewer system occasionally floods people’s basements, despite Washington Post propaganda to the contrary. Instead, the culprits are the age of Chicago’s sewer system and the city’s tremendous population growth since the 1800s.

Utilizing global warming alarmists’ same tired playbook of mischaracterized anecdotes, the Washington Post published an article this morning highlighting the story of a Chicago woman whose basement flooded when the city's aging sewage system could not adequately discharge water during a strong rainstrom. According to the Post, because flooding occurred and because global warming is occurring, global warming must be to blame for such unwelcome flooding.

The facts tell a completely different story. The effects of urban population growth present growing water management challenges, but streams and rivers largely undisturbed by human development show no increase in flooding events. Moreover, even perennially mismanaged cities like Detroit have dramatically reduced their annual sewage overflow and flooding events, while Chicago's city planners have failed to adequately modernize the Chicago's sewage system. One cannot blame global warming for sewage overflows in Chicago unless one simultaneously credits global warming for a dramatic decline in sewage overflow events in Detroit.

My full article on the topic is available here at Forbes.com.

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)