The Butterfly Effect

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause an earthquake halfway around the world.

We had an earthquake last Saturday evening around 5:30. It was nothing much, it was only a 2.6, but we both heard it. It originated deep underground in an adjoining county, but we both heard more than felt a bang from outside. We went outside to investigate, but found nothing. It wasn’t until the evening news that we learned what we had experienced. There are more substantive rumblings happening closer to home though. For the past couple of weeks a surveyor has been camped on our block. His multicolored graffiti tagging’s of the pavement possibly portend much to come. It looks like we will be visited soon by the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD). MSD is acting under a consent degree from the EPA. Much of the City of Saint Louis and many of its older suburbs, such as ours, were constructed with a single sewer line that handles both sanitary and storm functions. This works well enough except in the event of a large rainfall. Then all the additional rainwater overwhelms the water treatment system and the excess is dumped untreated into the Mississippi. Coming at you Memphis! The remedy is to uncross the streams. The surveyor was in part ensuring that no one still has their rain gutters draining into the septic line. Ours did, when we first bought the house, often leading to disastrous backups in the basement during large rain events, but with our new gutters we became compliant. With luck, and if all of our neighbors comply too then there should be no need to tear up our street. There are already new matching storm drains at the bottom of the block, which only have another block and a half to drain before they empty into the neighborhood’s large open storm sewer that was once a tributary of Deer Creek. With luck having street graffiti will be full the extent of our personal inconvenience in this affair.

In other underground news our last bill from MSD was humongous, more than double its usual size. It has been in the news that because of the cost of fulfilling the consent decree that our sewer bill will be going up at a rate of about 10% per year, for the next several years, but not doubling overnight. I checked with my neighbor and his bill had not exploded, so I called MSD. When I finally got an operator, he was well aware of the problem, a computer glitch that had affected 4,000 homes. I was just one of the lucky ones. All should be resolved on the next bill. I hope so.

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