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February 2, 2005

Impact of human beings on the environment

This morning I attended a ‘Virtual Tour’ of the Metro Wastewater Treatment Facility in St. Paul, MN. It was fascinating to see how much wastewater is treated per day and the impact it makes on the environment. Did you know that the Metro Plant treats approximately 200 MILLION gallons per day? That’s 73 billion gallons per year! Before the treatment plants, that was going directly into the river. When I think about the impact of human beings on the environment I have to keep the big picture in perspective. That is:
1. That prior to human beings living here, Nature took care of itself and water was as clean or dirty as Natural events allowed. Basically water in the ground, rivers and lakes was as clean as it would be by natural processes of the environment, like filtering through the rock, rain, runoff, evaporation, etc.
2. As population increased in any one location, pollution of the water and air increased and has reached critical pollution levels during our history. At one point in Germany the Rhein River was classified as “Dead” with no life forms. Other rivers, like the Mississippi and the St. Louis River also have reached critical states because of the presence of human beings. Our impact created a situation that needed to be cleaned up.
3. After human beings made a mess, efforts have been evolving to increase cleanup to achieve water quality levels prior to our interference with the natural processes of the environment, thus reducing our impact on the environment. As population increases in any one area the methods of water treatment have to evolve to keep up with the demand.
4. Our wastewater treatment success is measurably better than it used to be when we were just dumping our wastewater and other contaminants directly into the rivers and lakes. But it has to continue to improve, because we have not eliminated our impact on nature as manufacturing other business and residential use of chemicals and water increases and as population increases.

We should all care about the environment because as I stated before, as human beings, this planet is our home. We don’t want to pollute our homes or we will destroy ourselves, as we are capable of doing. The example of the Rhein River is a good one. It’s funny, but sad that another word in German that sounds the same, ‘Rein’ means ‘clean, pure; not mixed with anything else, but we managed to convert that to ‘dead.’ We have to care enough to reduce our impact on the environment or it will impact us in a negative way eventually. Our impact is cumulative and the untreated problems get worse with the higher concentrations of human beings.

Also as I said before, RESPECT and care for all living things is a spiritual attribute, just as we respect and care for our own lives. A lack of respect and care for all living things is spiritually hypocritical because all life is connected. We eventually kill ourselves by our own actions and attitudes. It’s saying we care but doing the opposite.

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search on the internet to find out more about the history of wastewater treatment in Minnesota. Here are some very interesting links. Also, it’s interesting to me to ask, that since my house was built in 1936 and the wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul wasn’t built until 1938, what happened to the waste from the first residents of my house? I’m guessing it went straight into the river.

History of Stormwater and Wastewater Drainage Systems in Minneapolis

What happens outside of the Twin-Cities Metro area

Minnesota’s efforts toward the 1970s cleanup of the St. Louis River

Wastewater treatment history of Mankato, since 1994

The Rhein River pollution continues even today. The (German Rhein, English Rhine, French Rhin, Dutch Rijn) is one of the longest rivers in Europe. Its name is derived from the Celtic word "renos" (meaning "raging flow"). Together with the Danube it formed most of the northern frontier of the Roman Empire and since those days has been a vital navigable waterway, carrying trade and goods deep inland.


Wastewater treatment is only one aspect of reducing our impact on the earth. My hope is that you care about the environment and are willing to cross all political and ideological boundaries to reduce our impact. After all, we are the cause of our pollution.

Posted by carl1236 at February 2, 2005 5:34 PM | Love your Neighbor


like your ideas

Posted by: aubrey at October 10, 2006 2:17 AM