Clean Streets — Clean Waterways: Street Sweeping, Storm-Water Runoff, and Pollution Reduction

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The sentiments expressed by Dr. King in reference to street sweepers are pertinent to the geographer and geographical research in several ways. Like Michelangelo, Beethoven, and Shakespeare, the street sweeper plays an important role in our urban setting. Human health, environmental quality, and pollution control, for example, are all inextricably linked to street sweeping. In essence, the street sweeper holds a critical key to the sustainability of urban society. Here then is the science of street sweeping, for the cleaning of the urban environment is directly related to the quality of life. If litter and wastes are not removed from the roads, then there is a danger that they will enter the storm water system where they will eventually co-mingle with surface water bodies. Without such street cleaning, natural water bodies are susceptible to contamination from many pollutants generated by human activities. Such issues do not end there, for the street sweeping process itself spawns yet another concern, namely how to manage the tons of sediment that are collected daily. Two broad issues, therefore, need to be addressed, storm water quality and waste management.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

WorldMinds: Geographical Perspectives on 100 Problems, p. 191-196