While Floridians deal with the devastating ravages of Hurricane Irma, residents might be dealing with another smellier problem—poop. Though power might be out and roadways flooded, the brown stuff could perhaps cause the biggest problem in South Florida.
That’s because, like most of the United States, the state’s sewage system is precarious and rickety. Any floodwater produced by the storm could cause these systems to back up, which isn’t to mention the septic tanks some Floridians have underneath their homes. Because of rising sea levels and larger storms, that water might not have anywhere to go and cause some serious problems.
Backed up toilets are also becoming a more common occurrence. The waste produced by about a third of the people going to the bathroom any given day in Florida (that includes tourists) goes into a septic tank. In order for a tank to do its job, there needs to be room for the liquid portion of the waste to slowly filter down into the ground. When groundwater levels go up, though, they push the waste back up, sometimes resulting in a poop flood.
That decidedly doesn’t sound like a good time. A similar issue occurred following Hurricane Sandy’s damage caused to the Northeast. Residents couldn’t flush for two weeks because of backed-up sewer systems. Hopefully the people of Florida are good at holding it, as they might just be doing that in the coming days.