Current Pollution Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 280–282 | Cite as

Single-Indicator Strategies Treat Symptoms, Not Sources of Sewage Contamination, Hampering Water Quality Improvement in Urban Areas

  • Gregory D. O’MullanEmail author
  • Timothy T. Eaton
  • M. Elias Dueker
Invited Commentary

Infrastructure challenges and water pollution are endemic to major urban centers worldwide [1], causing eutrophication [2], hypoxia [3], and infection risk from fecal pathogens in coastal waters. In New York City, coastal water quality is still unacceptable because nearly 100 billion liters of untreated sewage-contaminated waste are delivered to receiving waters each year. Sewage pollution is even worse in cities with less developed infrastructure, and has been exacerbated by the global trend toward urbanization. The roots of this problem lie in the challenges of modernizing aging sewage infrastructure: both increasing capacity and overcoming a legacy of delivering untreated sewage directly to waterways. As public expectations and regulatory requirements have improved, driven by enforcement of the Clean Water Act in the USA, an increasing fraction of this sewage is now being captured for modern secondary and tertiary treatment in many regions. However, retrofitting of infrastructure...



Gregory O'Mullan has received water quality monitoring and research funding from Riverkeeper, the Eppley Foundation for Scientific Research, and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation. Gregory O'Mullan and M. Elias Dueker received a research grant (#007/13A) for investigating water and air quality connections from the Hudson River Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory D. O’Mullan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Timothy T. Eaton
    • 1
  • M. Elias Dueker
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens CollegeCity University of New YorkFlushingUSA
  2. 2.Center for the Study of Land, Air, and WaterBard CollegeAnnandale-on-HudsonUSA

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