By Michael Madison
If your household plumbing is connected to a public sewer system, then once you flush, the water and its contents pass quickly from your dominion to someone else’s control.
So what? The answer, surprisingly, is that a close look at contemporary wastewater treatment shows us something critical to Postindustrial Cities: how our governance systems aren’t keeping up with modern technology.
Scientists have asked “who owns your poop?” out of ethical fears. They conclude: Get informed consent. Don’t exploit people.
All true. But those principles may miss a big community forest by focusing on individual trees. What many people learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is that community levels of infectious disease can be monitored by studying wastewater. Starting in 2020 wastewater analysis expanded dramatically all over the world as governments and public health experts studied our pee and poop. Those systems aren’t going away. The products of our most intimate, private activities have been turned into digital data, shared widely among public utilities, giant private companies, public officials, and scientific experts.Read More »#Pittsburgh’s Futures 13/x – Sewage, Datafication, and Postindustrial Cities