Déjà poo


Oh, the irony. For 13 years, the state environmental agency in Vancouver, Wash., searched in vain for the source of pollution in Burnt Bridge Creek and Vancouver Lake. During the last two and a half years, the investigation became intensive, with workers using “a probe mounted with a small television camera to survey 300 miles of underground storm water pipes.” They should have looked closer to home, reports The Associated Press, because the source turned out to be the ecologists themselves. Fourteen employees of the state’s Department of Ecology, 80 staffers from the Department of Fish and Game, and three members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers all work and go to the bathroom in a building that was originally designed to house a garden center. State officials believe that when the building was built, back in the 1970s, its sewer pipe was mistakenly hooked into a storm water drain, bypassing Vancouver’s sewage plant. It took some years for the raw sewage flooding the creek to be noticed, but in 1996, state ecologists realized that Burnt Bridge Creek was “severely polluted with fecal coliform bacteria” — and the hunt was on for the source. City workers finally solved the riddle, and needless to say, the news stunned state ecologists. As spill-response specialist Laura Sauermilch succinctly put it, “Holy crap, let’s get this taken care of!”

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