Transcript: The Big Leak | Mar 10, 2017

A logo on a black background fades in and reads: "TVO Originals".

(soft music plays)

Fast clips show a main water hydrant gushing water into a street at night, a male operator getting into a sewer, a truck unloading dirt in a construction site and a van crossing a flooded street.

Alex says NORTH AMERICA'S WATER
INFRASTRUCTURE IS CRUMBLING.
THE SEWERS, PUMPS, PIPES AND
TREATMENT PLANTS THAT KEEP OUR
AT THE END OF THEIR LIFESPANS,
NEEDLESSLY WASTING
PRECIOUS WATER.
FIXING THESE PROBLEMS
WILL COST TAXPAYERS TRILLIONS.
THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE MORE
EXPENSIVE IT WILL BECOME.
HOW DO WE STOP THE BIG LEAK?

As water runs down the street, the title of the episode appears: The Big Leak.

Tyler is in his late twenties with brown hair and wears a green plaid shirt, and is clean-shaven.

Tyler says HEY EVERYONE, I M TYLER.

A fast clip shows Tyler, jumping into a waterfall, dancing in a crowd and scuba diving.
A caption reads "Tyler."

Tyler says AND THIS IS MY
YOUNGER BROTHER ALEX.

A fast clip shows Alex water skiing, standing next to a fire, swimming with sharks, and watching a train pass by.
A caption reads "Alex."
Alex is in his late twenties with light brown hair and is not clean-shaven. He wears a black striped hoodie.

Alex says AND TOGETHER WE RE THE
WATER BROTHERS.

Then photos show Alex and Tyler as little boys hugging, in wetsuits and Alex with snorkels.

A fast clip shows the brothers walking in a poor area, hiking in ice, canoeing on a lake, then sailing a boat, scuba diving in the ocean, then two fisherman throw their nets out into the water and a group of dolphins play in the ocean.

Alex continues WE RE GOING TO TAKE YOU ON AN
ADVENTURE AROUND THE WORLD TO
EXPLORE THE STATE OF OUR
BLUE PLANET.
A PLANET DEFINED BY WATER AND
IT S ABILITY TO SUSTAIN LIFE.

The fast clip continues showing the two brothers in a speedboat, a woman pumping water, and another woman pulling water from a well.

Tyler says SO JOIN US ON OUR
JOURNEY AS WE EXPLORE THE
WORLD LOOKING AT THE MOST
IMPORTANT WATER STORIES
OF OUR TIME.

Alex says AND TOGETHER WE WILL LEARN
HOW TO BETTER PROTECT OUR MOST
PRECIOUS RESOURCE.

The title of the show appears on screen. It reads "The Water Brothers."

Tyler says OUR WATER
INFRASTRUCTURE NETWORKS ARE
IN A STATE OF DISREPAIR.
OLD PIPES ARE LEAKING
OR BURSTING AND FLOODING
STREETS, POLLUTED WATER IS
RUNNING FREELY INTO OUR LAKES,
RIVERS AND OCEANS, AND
OUR OUT-DATED WATER SYSTEMS ARE
STRUGGLING TO KEEP UP WITH
RISING POPULATIONS AND CHANGING
CHANGE.

The caption changes to "David Sedlak. Co-Director, Berkeley Water Center. University of California, Berkeley." David is in his mid-fifties, clean-shaven with receding gray hair. He wears a black jacker over an open-necked light blue shirt.

David says OUR WATER
INFRASTRUCTURE IN NORTH AMERICA
IS DUE FOR AN OVERHAUL.
WE BUILT A LOT OF THE
INFRASTRUCTURE THAT SUPPORTS OUR
SEWAGE COLLECTION AND OUR WATER
SUPPLIES FORTY, FIFTY YEARS AGO,
AND THAT STUFF, WE HAVEN T BEEN
DOING AS GOOD A JOB AS WE COULD
MAINTAINING IT.
AS A RESULT IT'S TIME TO REPLACE
A LOT OF IT.

Old and rusty pipes leak.

Alex says WATER DEPARTMENTS ARE
DESPERATE TO FIX THIS GROWING
PROBLEM, BUT THEY ARE SHORT ON
FUNDS.

The caption changes to "Robert Sandford. Chair for Water and Climate Security. United Nations University." he is in his early sixties, clean-shaven with receding thin blond hair. He wears a black jacket over a pale striped shirt and a brooch.

Robert says EVERY TIME THERE S A
BUDGET
CRISIS AT A MUNICIPALITY OR
PROVINCIAL OR FEDERAL LEVEL WHAT
OFTEN GETS CUTS FIRST IS
INFRASTRUCTURE BECAUSE YOU CAN'T
SEE A LOT OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE
BECAUSE IT S UNDERGROUND,
AND DELAYS IN IT DON'T
SEEM TO CAUSE PROBLEMS.
SO WHAT WE SEE IS THE GRADUAL
RISE IN THE DEFICIT THAT WE HAVE
BUILT UP IN CANADA, AND IT'S
REALLY HARD TO MEASURE BECAUSE
A LOT OF COMMUNITIES DON'T
REALLY UNDERSTAND THE
CONDITION OF THEIR OWN
INFRASTRUCTURE.
BUT WE SEE REGULARLY NUMBERS
BETWEEN TWO HUNDRED AND FOUR
HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS IN
CANADA ALONE.
AND DEPENDING UPON WHAT
NUMBERS YOU LOOK AT IN THE
UNITED STATES, WE
COULD, IN THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS,
FACE INFRASTRUCTURE DEFICITS
RELATED TO WATER AS MUCH
AS A TRILLION DOLLARS.

A fast-motion clip shows a type of crane spinning in huge water tanks.

David says WELL, THE EASY
THING TO DO IS TO KICK THE CAN
DOWN THE ROAD, AND SO IF YOU CAN
JUST KIND OF PATCH UP THINGS
WHEN THEY REACH A STATE OF
CATASTROPHIC FAILURE,
THAT S GOOD ENOUGH.
SO WHEN YOU SEE A WATER MAIN
BREAK, OR A SEWER MAIN BREAK
IN A CITY, THAT S A
SYMPTOM OF A MUCH LARGER
PROBLEM, THAT WE RE EVENTUALLY
GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH.

An excavator breaks concrete in a city downtown.

Alex stands in a parking area.

He says IT'S MIND BOGGLING TO
THINK, BUT OVER EIGHT TRILLION
LITERS OF TREATED WATER ARE LOST
TO LEAKS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA
EVERY YEAR.
TREATING THIS WATER COSTS US A
LOT OF MONEY AND WE ARE
LITERALLY FLUSHING BILLIONS OF
TAX DOLLARS DOWN THE DRAIN BY
CONTINUING TO IGNORE
THE PROBLEMS FACING OUR
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE NETWORKS.
BUT HOW DID THIS SITUATION
GET THIS BAD?
WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG TO FIX?
AND HOW DO WE REDESIGN OUR WATER
SYSTEMS TO BE MORE
EFFICIENT AND DURABLE?
TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS WE ARE
GOING TO GO ON A JOURNEY INTO
THIS HIDDEN UNDERWORLD OF PIPES
AND SEWERS THAT ALL OF US
DEPEND ON, BUT FEW OF US EVER
SEE.

David says SOME CITIES LOSE
TWENTY OR THIRTY PERCENT OF THE
WATER THAT THEY COLLECT AND
TREAT, JUST BY LEAKING PIPES,
THAT IS THE PIPES LEAK BETWEEN
THE DRINKING WATER TREATMENT
PLANT AND THE CUSTOMERS TAPS.
THAT'S WATER THAT WE DON'T HAVE
TO TAKE OUT OF THE ENVIRONMENT,
AND THAT WE DON'T HAVE TO
SPEND ENERGY AND USE CHEMICALS
IN TREATING, THAT WE COULD BE
SAVING IF WE COULD FIGURE A
WAY TO PLUG THOSE LEAKS.

Tyler says IN THE PROVINCE OF
ONTARIO ALONE, ENOUGH WATER
IS LOST TO LEAKS EACH YEAR TO
FILL 131,000 OLYMPIC SIZED
SWIMMING POOLS, EQUAL TO A LOSS
OF OVER SEVEN HUNDRED
MILLION DOLLARS.
ACROSS NORTH AMERICA THE LOSSES
FROM LEAKS ARE IN THE TENS OF
BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, AMOUNTS
THAT WILL ONLY CONTINUE TO
INCREASE THE LONGER WE DELAY
FINDING AND REPAIRING
LEAKY PIPES.

An animated map of North America appears. Highlighted in green, Ontario shows dripping blue icons and red money symbols. Then, the icons and symbols cover North America.

Now, Alex wears a yellow safety helmet and an orange vest.

Alex says THIS WATER PIPE RIGHT HERE
IS FROM THE 1970'S BUT SOME OF
THE PIPES THEY RE DIGGING UP
ALONG THIS STREET ARE FROM AS
EARLY AS 1881.
THEY RE MADE OF CAST AND DUCTILE
IRON, SO THE QUALITY OF WATER
GOING THROUGH HERE IS
STILL OKAY, BUT THE REASON
THEY'RE REPLACING THEM IS
BECAUSE OF HOLES LIKE THESE.
AND EACH ONE OF THESE HOLES CAN
EASILY LEAK TWENTY FIVE TO
THIRTY THOUSAND LITERS OF WATER
PER DAY, WHICH WOULD ADD UP TO
FORTY TO FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS
WORTH OF WATER LOST PER YEAR.
AND WHEN YOU CONSIDER THAT
ACROSS NORTH AMERICA, THERE S
OVER TWO MILLION KILOMETERS OF
WATER PIPES, MANY OF WHICH ARE
AGING JUST LIKE THIS ONE, IT
GIVES YOU A SENSE OF THE SCALE
OF THE PROBLEM WE RE DEALING
WITH.

A male worker directs a blue PVC pipe into a hole in the street.

He continues THANKFULLY THEY RE GOING TO
REPLACE THIS PIPE WITH THESE NEW
PLASTIC PVC ONES, WHICH
ARE LESS SUSCEPTIBLE TO LEAKS,
AND LAST MUCH LONGER, SO
HOPEFULLY THEY WON'T HAVE TO DIG
UP THIS STREET FOR ANOTHER
HUNDRED YEARS OR MORE.

Walking down the street, Tyler says WHEN WE NEGLECT OLD
PIPES, ONE OF THE UNFORTUNATE
CONSEQUENCES ARE WATER MAIN
BREAKS, WHICH CAN FLOOD ENTIRE
CITY STREETS.
OVER THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND
WATER MAIN BREAKS NOW
OCCUR ACROSS NORTH AMERICA
EVERY SINGLE YEAR,
AND THEY CAN HAPPEN FOR MANY
DIFFERENT REASONS, FROM FREEZING
TEMPERATURES, THAT BLOCK WATER
PIPES WITH ICE, AND CAUSE
THEM TO BURST, OR SIMPLY BECAUSE
OF OLD AGE AND CORROSION,
BUT THE LONGER WE
WAIT TO REPLACE OUR AGING
WATER NETWORKS, THE MORE
LIKELY THESE BREAKS AND FLOODS
ARE TO OCCUR.

The caption changes to "Dr. Lucio Soibelman. Department of Environmental Engineering. University of Southern California." Lucio is in his mid-forties, clean-shaven with receding hair. He wears a pale blue shirt.

In an office, Lucio says WHEN PEOPLE
LOOK AT WATER MAIN FAILING,
AND WATER BREAKS THEY THINK THAT
OKAY YEAH, I M NOT GOING TO HAVE
WATER FOR ONE DAY, I CAN LIVE
WITH THAT.
IT'S NOT SO SIMPLE.
WE HAVE WHAT YOU CALL THE DOMINO
EFFECT.
SO WHEN YOU HAVE A WATER MAIN
BREAK, WE FLOOD THE HIGHWAY.
WHEN YOU FLOOD THE HIGHWAY YOU
STOP THE TRANSPORTATION NETWORK.
WHEN YOU STOP THE TRANSPORTATION
NETWORK,
YOU TAKE AN EXTRA TWENTY MINUTES
TO GO TO WORK;
YOU HAVE TO FIND AN ALTERNATIVE
ROUTE.
WHO PAYS FOR THAT?
THOSE EXTRA TWENTY MINUTES THAT
YOU RE NOT WORKING,
IT'S A COST FOR THE SOCIETY.

A clip plays. The caption changes to "UCLA Flood-Watermain Break. July 2014."

It shows water flooding the stairs of a building entrance and young people walking barefoot in the flood as they take pictures of it.

The clip ends.

Lucio continues THE COSTS IN THE END WE PAY.
WE DON'T PAY IN FRONT IN TAXES
TO FIX IT;
YOU PAY AS A SOCIETY TO FIX THE
DAMAGE THAT THOSE FAILURES
CAUSED TO US.

Alex says IGNORING OUR AGING
WATER SYSTEMS IS NOT JUST AN
ECONOMIC PROBLEM, IT ALSO POSES
A SERIOUS THREAT TO PUBLIC
HEALTH AS WAS MOST RECENTLY
EXPERIENCED IN THE CITY OF
FLINT, MICHIGAN WHERE A
COMBINATION OF POOR DECISION
MAKING, NEGLIGENCE AND AGING
INFRASTRUCTURE CAUSED THOUSANDS
OF YOUNG CHILDREN TO BE EXPOSED
TO DANGEROUSLY HIGH LEVELS OF
LEAD IN THEIR DRINKING WATER.

Pictures of a water tower that reads "Flint Water Plant," brown water running from a faucet flash and a male doctor getting a blood sample from a boy flash by.

David says I THINK THE MAIN
LESSON THAT WE CAN TAKE AWAY
FROM FLINT, IS THAT IT'S HARD TO
JUST CUT CORNERS ON A
WATER SYSTEM, WITHOUT THINKING
ABOUT THE
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

Robert says THERE WERE
SHORTCUTS TAKEN, THERE WERE
BUDGETARY CUTS DECIDED UPON AND
CHOICES WERE MADE TO CONTINUE
OPERATING ALONG THOSE LINES,
WHICH IN THE END PRODUCED
A SITUATION WHERE PEOPLE CANNOT
TRUST THEIR WATER SOURCES.
IF WE ARE LAX IN OUR STANDARDS
AND DON'T CONTINUE TO FUND
INFRASTRUCTURE REPLACEMENT,
THEN WE COULD FIND OURSELVES IN
SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES WIDELY
ACROSS THIS COUNTRY.

A picture of a young woman raising a poster that reads "Justice for Flint" appears.

Tyler says WATER TOXICITY
EXPERTS ESTIMATE THAT AS MANY
AS TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND
CANADIAN HOUSEHOLDS COULD BE AT
RISK OF BEING EXPOSED TO LEAD
THROUGH THEIR DRINKING WATER.
IN THE US, THERE S AN ESTIMATED
SIX-POINT-ONE MILLION LEAD
BUSINESSES AND
EVEN SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS.

Fast clips show urban traffic and aerial views of a city.

He continues REQUIRE NEARLY
THREE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS.
PLACES LIKE FLINT, SIMPLY
CANNOT AFFORD THEIR SHARE.

David says SO I THINK THAT
THE TAKE HOME MESSAGE IS THAT
WE SHOULD RE-DOUBLE OUR EFFORTS
FOR CITIES THAT ARE STRUGGLING
WITH BAD ECONOMIC TIMES AND
RECOGNIZE THAT WATER IS NOT A
PROVISION THAT JUST IS, LET'S
MAKE IT AS CHEAP AS POSSIBLE,
IT'S SOMETHING THAT HAS A PUBLIC
HEALTH SIDE TO IT,
AND WE CAN'T FORGET THAT
THAT IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN
SAVING A FEW DOLLARS.

Tyler stands in a bathroom.

Tyler says CITIES AND TOWNS ACROSS
NORTH AMERICA URGENTLY NEED TO
UPGRADE THEIR WATER and WASTEWATER
NETWORKS.
AND TO COVER THESE COSTS YOU CAN
BET WE RE ALL GOING TO BE ASKED
TO PAY A LITTLE BIT MORE FOR
WATER, BUT THERE IS PLENTY WE
CAN ALL DO TO HELP REDUCE THE
COSTS TO CITIES TO FIX THESE
PROBLEMS, STARTING WITH BEING
MORE RESPONSIBLE ABOUT
WHAT WE PUT DOWN OUR DRAINS.

Alex says ONE OF THE MOST
EXPENSIVE BURDENS OUR WATER
DEPARTMENTS HAVE TO DEAL WITH
WASTEWATER SYSTEMS
OF GARBAGE AND FOOD THAT IS
UNNECESSARILY
DUMPED DOWN TOILETS AND SINKS.
BARRY ORR IS AN OFFICIAL FROM
THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND
ENGINEERING SERVICES DIVISION
WHO HAS SPENT MUCH OF THE LAST
TWENTY YEARS RAISING
AWARENESS ABOUT THE THREAT
GARBAGE POSES TO WASTEWATER
INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE
ENVIRONMENT.
WE MET BARRY AND HIS CREW AS
THEY PREPARED TO UNBLOCK
A CLOGGED SEWER.

The caption changes to "Barry Orr. Sewer Compliance Officer. City of London, Ontario." Barry is in his late forties, clean-shaven with short whitish hair. He wears protective goggles, white safety helmet and a yellow and orange vest over a blue shirt.

Barry and Alex stand in a green area.

Barry says SO WHAT WE'VE
GOT HERE IS,
TAKE A LOOK DEEP DOWN, YOU CAN
SEE ALL THE GREASE THAT S BUILT
UP ON THERE RIGHT?

Alex says OH YEAH.

Barry says SO MASSIVE, AND
NOTICE THERE S ALL THESE
BALLS RIGHT?
THAT S FROM SOMEBODY DUMPING
BACON FAT DOWN THE DRAIN,
AND AS IT'S COOLING IT'S
TURNING INTO A BALL.

Alex says THERE ARE JUST HUNDREDS OF
THEM DOWN THERE.

Using a flashlight to light up the sewer, Barry says THOUSANDS OF THEM ARE
DOWN HERE.
THIS IS PROBABLY THREE
FEET THICK.
AND WE'LL SEE THAT AS WE GO TO
CLEAN THIS OUT.

Alex says AND YOU'RE GOING DOWN
THERE?

Barry says UNFORTUNATELY I AM
GOING DOWN THERE TODAY.

Alex says WELL WE RE GOING TO
WATCH FROM RIGHT UP HERE.
They chuckle.

A powerful hose sucks in the thick substance at the bottom of the sewer.

Alex says HOW WAS IT?

Barry says THE THINGS I DO FOR
YOU GUYS.

Alex says YEAH, I KNOW.
He laughs and says YEAH, DON'T WIPE YOUR
FACE.

Barry lifts a type of rock out of a bucket.

Barry says SO WE HAVE A
BLOCKAGE.
THIS IS FROM AN EIGHTEEN-INCH
SEWER LINE.
SO YOU CAN SEE HOW-

Alex says IT'S JUST SHAPED RIGHT TO
THE LINE.

Barry says YEAH IT'S SHAPED
RIGHT TO THE SIZE OF THE PIPE,
SO I LITERALLY WAS ONLY ABLE TO
BREAK A PIECE OFF.
IT IS A BIG, MASSIVE BLOCKAGE
DOWN THERE.

Alex says IT LOOKS ALMOST LIKE
CEMENT; IT LOOKS LIKE A
CHUNK OF CEMENT.

Barry says YEAH,
AND SO HERE'S THE GREASE BALLS,

Alex says OH WOW.

Barry says SO THAT S
SOMEBODY WHO S JUST COOKED UP
A PACKAGE OF BACON,
USING SOME HOT WATER AND DUMPING
IT DOWN THE DRAIN.
AND THEN THAT'S WHAT THIS IS
TURNING INTO.

Alex says WE'VE SEEN HOW IT
BUILDS UP RIGHT ON THE PIPES,
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN
THERE S A COMPLETE BLOCKAGE?
HOW DOES THAT EFFECT US
IN OUR EVERY DAY LIVES?

Barry says OKAY, SO WHEN
YOU HAVE SO MUCH
WASTEWATER GOING INTO THE
SYSTEM, AND YOU HAVE A
RESTRICTION OF THIS, WHERE S IT
GOING TO GO?
IT'S GOING TO GO INTO SOMEBODY S
BASEMENT.
IT'S GOING TO GO OUT INTO
THE STORM DRAIN SYSTEM,
AND REMEMBER THAT THE STORM
DRAIN SYSTEM
DOES NOT GET TREATMENT.
IT GOES DIRECTLY TO OUR CREEKS
AND RIVERS AS POTENTIALLY
RAW SEWAGE.

Ducks float in a lake under the rain.

Barry continues THAT IS A HUGE
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE FOR US,
AND WE DON'T WANT TO SEE
BASEMENTS FLOODED.
WE KNOW THAT ONE OF THE
LARGEST INSURANCE CLAIMS IS NOW
RELATED TO FLOODED BASEMENTS
ACROSS ALL OF CANADA.

Alex says SO IN A SENSE WE'RE
CREATING THE PROBLEM OURSELVES.

Barry says WE ARE CREATING
AN ABSOLUTELY HUGE BURDEN ON
OUR INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEM,
AND SEE HOW SIMPLE IT WOULD
BE TO FIX RIGHT?
ALL I HAD TO DO WAS PUT MY BACON
GREASE INTO SOMETHING
OTHER THEN THE SINK.

Alex says WE DON'T NEED
SOME SPECIAL TECHNOLOGY;
WE JUST NEED A LITTLE AWARENESS
AND EDUCATION.

Alex says GARBAGE PUTS A HUGE BURDEN
ON OUR WASTEWATER SYSTEMS,
SO TODAY WE'VE SET SOME TRAPS
IN DIFFERENT SEWERS ALONG THIS
RESIDENTIAL STREET AND WE'RE
GOING TO PULL THEM UP AND SEE
WHAT WE CAN FIND.

Barry says SO I THOUGHT WE'D
DO A LITTLE FISHING TODAY,
SO HERE WE HAVE THIS FISH LINE
IN HERE THAT S TRAPPED SOME OF
THE NON-FLUSHABLE MATERIAL.
WOULD YOU LIKE THE HONOURS
OF BRINGING THAT UP?

Alex says I GET TO GO
FISH, AND SEE WHAT WE BRING UP.

Barry says OH WOW.

Alex lifts a wire out of a sewer. A ball of indistinct material hangs at the end of the wire.

Alex says OKAY WE GOT A MONSTER, WE
GOT A MONSTER.

Barry says LET IT DRIP A LITTLE
BIT.

Barry opens a garbage bag for Alex to place the ball.

Barry says SO, NOW WE'LL GO BACK
TO THE LAB AND WE'LL TAKE
THAT APART.
YOU CAN ALREADY SEE THAT THERE
IS A HUGE AMOUNT OF
NON-DISPERSIBLE MATERIAL.

Tyler says ALL OF THE FISHING
LINES WE PULLED UP WERE
COMPLETELY COVERED IN SANITARY
WIPES.
WIPES HAVE LONG BEEN USED TO
CLEAN COUNTERTOPS AND MESSY
2000 S,
THEY WERE REBRANDED AS AN
ALTERNATIVE TO TOILET PAPER AND
SALES HAVE SINCE SKYROCKETED.
HOWEVER, MANY OF THESE WIPES
CONTAIN PLASTIC AND DO NOT
BIODEGRADE OR BREAK DOWN IN
WATER AS MANY CONSUMERS HAVE
BEEN LED TO BELIEVE.

Now, Alex and Barry stand by a table where many different glass containers sit.

Barry shows a jar with water and a wipe in it.

Barry says SO THIS BABY WIPE HAS
BEEN IN HERE NOW FOR THREE
YEARS, AND YOU CAN SEE
IT'S STILL FULLY INTACT.
OKAY.

Alex says IT HASN'T EVEN BROKEN DOWN
ONE BIT.
THERE IS NOT EVEN A LITTLE
STRAND OFF.

Barry says NO THERE S
NOTHING, AND OF COURSE YOU KNOW
I COME IN DAILY TO AGITATE IT
TO SEE WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.
SO BABY WIPES ARE NOT FLUSHABLE.

Alex says OVER THE PAST FIVE
HAVE BEEN SOLD WORLDWIDE.
AS THEY BECOME MORE POPULAR,
MANY CITIES ARE NOW SPENDING
MILLIONS OF DOLLARS CLEARING
THEM FROM CLOGGED SEWERS
AND PUMPS.
AS THE WIPES BUILD UP,
WASTEWATER PLANTS ARE BEING
FORCED TO INSTALL EXPENSIVE
SCREENS AND GRINDERS TO CAPTURE
AND CHOP THEM UP, BUT EVEN THIS
EXTRA EQUIPMENT
IS GETTING CLOGGED.

Tyler says SANITARY AND BABY
WIPES HAVE BECOME A
TWELVE BILLION DOLLAR GLOBAL
INDUSTRY AND MANY MANUFACTURERS
EXPLICITLY LABEL AND MARKET
THEIR PRODUCTS AS FLUSHABLE,
DESPITE MOUNTING EVIDENCE
THAT THEY ARE ONE OF THE MOST
TROUBLESOME THINGS YOU COULD
BE FLUSHING DOWN YOUR TOILET.

Barry says IT'S LIKE WE HAVE
TO DE-CONFUSE THE CONSUMER.
AND THAT'S GOING TO COST
MILLIONS UPON
MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

Alex says WHILE CONSUMERS CAN
CERTAINLY HELP OUT BY DISPOSING
NOT PURCHASING THEM AT ALL;
HAVE TO COME FROM IMPROVED
LABELING GUIDELINES AND
REGULATIONS BY GOVERNMENTS SO
CONSUMERS CAN NO LONGER BE
MISLED BY LABELS THAT
INCORRECTLY CLAIM PRODUCTS ARE
FLUSHABLE.

Barry and Alex stand by a large waste container in a facility.

Wearing gloves, Barry grabs waste material and says IT IS ABSOLUTELY
STAGGERING THE AMOUNT OF GARBAGE
THAT IS COMING IN THROUGH THE
WASTEWATER SYSTEM, AND IT'S
JUST NOT SUSTAINABLE.
THIS IS COSTING US ALL WAY TOO
MUCH MONEY TO BE TREATING
TOILETS LIKE GARBAGE CANS,
WAY TOO MUCH.

Tyler says UNFORTUNATELY,
SANITARY WIPES AREN'T THE ONLY
TYPE OF GARBAGE CLOGGING OUR
WASTEWATER SYSTEMS,
AS WE WOULD SEE IN A
SEWER BENEATH THE STREETS
OF DOWNTOWN TORONTO.

At night, Alex descends into a sewer wearing gloves, a yellow safety helmet and white overall.

Alex says ALL RIGHT, LOOK AT WHAT WE
HAVE HERE.
OUR BIG FIND!
A COUPLE OF TAMPON APPLICATORS,
SOMETHING THAT YOU UNFORTUNATELY
SEE FAR TOO OFTEN IN SEWERS AND
WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS,
AND IT REALLY JUST GOES TO SHOW
YOU HOW MUCH OUR WATER
INFRASTRUCTURE NETWORKS HAVE
CHANGED, BECAUSE YOU KNOW
WHEN THIS SEWER WAS FIRST BUILT,
PLASTIC WASN'T EVEN
INVENTED YET.
SO OUR SEWERS REALLY AREN'T
DESIGNED TO DEAL WITH THE SCALE
OF GARBAGE THAT WE SEE TODAY,
ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S THINGS LIKE
PLASTIC, WHICH CAN LAST FOR OVER
A CENTURY.

Tyler says THE SEWER WE WERE
WALKING IN WAS OVER 100 YEARS
OLD AND WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED
TO HANDLE THE WASTE OF JUST A
FEW THOUSAND PEOPLE, BUT TODAY,
MANY SEWER LINES LIKE THIS ARE
SERVICING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS
OF PEOPLE AND ARE NOT ALWAYS
CAPABLE OF HANDLING SO MUCH
HUMAN WASTE,
LET ALONE OUR GARBAGE.

Alex says SO THIS IS AN UNFORTUNATE
SIGHT TO SEE.
RIGHT HERE WE HAVE A SMALL PILL,
THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN DROPPED
DOWN SOMEONE S DRAIN
OR FLUSHED DOWN THEIR TOILET,
PROBABLY BECAUSE IT WAS EXPIRED,
BUT WHAT HAPPENS IS THAT WHEN
SOME OF THESE PILLS BREAKDOWN,
THEY CAN ACTUALLY BYPASS
WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS,
AND MAKE IT RIGHT INTO OUR LOCAL
RIVERS AND LAKES.
SO THAT S WHY IT S SO IMPORTANT
THAT YOU RETURN EXPIRED
MEDICATION TO A PHARMACY.
DON'T PUT IT IN THE
GARBAGE, AND DEFINITELY DON'T
FLUSH IT DOWN YOUR TOILET.

Tyler says AS PHARMACEUTICALS
BUILD UP IN WATERWAYS THEY CAN
HARM AQUATIC LIFE, AND TRACE
AMOUNTS CAN ALSO END UP
IN OUR DRINKING WATER.
WHEN WE TREAT OUR TOILETS LIKE
GARBAGE CANS, IT ISN'T JUST OUR
WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE THAT
SUFFERS.

Alex says SO BARRY, WE'VE COME DOWN
TO THE RIVER AND WE RE JUST
SURROUNDED BY GARBAGE RIGHT
NOW, WHERE IS IT COMING FROM?

Barry says YEAH, THIS IS REALLY
TROUBLING BECAUSE WE ARE GETTING
MORE AND MORE OF THESE
RAINSTORMS THAT ARE ACTUAL HUGE
EVENTS, RIGHT?
AND THESE RAIN EVENTS ARE
INUNDATING US WITH THE
RAINWATER, AND THEN IT GETS
INTO THE SEWER SYSTEM, AND THE
SEWER SYSTEM CAN'T HANDLE IT ALL
RIGHT? SO WHAT HAPPENS WOULD BE
THAT IT WOULD BY-PASS THE
SYSTEM.
SO WITHIN A NUMBER OF
MUNICIPALITIES ACROSS CANADA,
AND LITERALLY ACROSS THE GLOBE,
YOU HAVE TO ALLOW FOR RELIEF OF
THAT WATER.
SO THIS HERE IS A RELIEF
STRUCTURE THAT YOU CAN SEE IS
INUNDATED WITH GARBAGE.
THIS IS REALLY TROUBLING FOR ME
BECAUSE HERE S OUR BEAUTIFUL
RIVER, AND WE'RE ENDING UP WITH
ALL OF THIS GARBAGE AND MATERIAL
WITHIN THE WASTEWATER.

Alex says MANY OLDER CITIES
ACROSS NORTH AMERICA USE
COMBINED SEWER SYSTEMS, WHERE
BOTH SEWAGE AND STORM WATER
FLOW INTO A SINGLE PIPE TO
WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS.
BUT DURING HEAVY RAINFALL
EVENTS, THIS MIXTURE OF
RAW SEWAGE, STORM WATER AND
GARBAGE BACKS UP THE SEWER
OVERFLOW OR CSO, ALLOWING
UNTREATED POLLUTED SEWAGE AND
GARBAGE TO FLOW DIRECTLY INTO
LOCAL WATERWAYS.

An animation shows the process explained by Alex.

Tyler stands by a railroad tracks.

Tyler says BECAUSE CITIES ARE
ILL EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH
INTENSE RAINFALL EVENTS, LIKE
TODAY WHERE WE'RE GETTING ABOUT
A MONTH S WORTH OF RAIN IN JUST
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS,
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.
RIGHT NOW I M STANDING IN A
MIXTURE OF STORM WATER AND
RAW SEWAGE THAT'S OVERFLOWING
FROM THIS SEWER RIGHT HERE, AND
FLOODING THIS AREA WITH
THOUSANDS OF LITERS OF POLLUTED
WATER EVERY SINGLE MINUTE.
AND UNFORTUNATELY ALL THIS
POLLUTED
WATER WILL EVENTUALLY FLOW OUT
INTO LAKE ONTARIO, THE SOURCE OF
DRINKING WATER FOR MILLIONS OF
PEOPLE.

Alex says TO UNDERSTAND
HOW THIS PROBLEM IMPACTS ALL OF US,
WE MET WITH
MARK MATTSON
OF LAKE ONTARIO WATERKEEPER NEAR A
COMBINED SEWER OVERFLOW IN
TORONTO.

The caption changes to "Mark Mattson. President and Co-founder. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper." Mark is in his late forties, with a short beard and brown hair. He wears a green T-shirt.

Mark says SO HERE ON THE DON
RIVER THERE S A LOT OF WHAT THEY
CALL CSOS AND SO WHEN IT RAINS
AND THEY OVERFLOW YOU REALLY GET
THE SEWAGE FROM THE CITY COMING
RIGHT OUT INTO THE RIVER AND
INTO THE LAKE, AND SO YOU SEE
THE MIXTURE BETWEEN WHAT S
COMING OUT OF THE TOILETS AS
WELL AS WHAT'S RUNNING OFF THE
PARKS AND THE STREETS, THE BALLS
AND THE STICKS ETC.
AND THAT'S REALLY WHAT YOU GET,
REALLY A TOXIC BREW DOWN HERE.
BUT YOU KNOW ON
AVERAGE THE CITY OF TORONTO
DISCHARGES BETWEEN THREE BILLION
AND FOUR BILLION LITERS OF
SEWAGE INTO LAKE ONTARIO IN A
YEAR.
THEY WERE DESIGNED NOT TO
OVERFLOW EXCEPT FOR ONCE
EVERY FEW YEARS, BUT WE'VE BEEN
GETTING MORE RAIN, AND IN
SMALLER BURSTS, SO WE'VE SEEN
THIS HAPPEN MORE THEN
ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR IN THE LAST
FEW YEARS.
I MEAN THE BIG ONE THAT EVERYONE
WILL REMEMBER WAS JULY 2013
WHEN ACTUALLY THE TRAINS, THE GO
TRAINS, WERE STOPPED
ALONG THE DON.

Tyler says DURING THAT STORM,
TORONTO RECEIVED OVER A MONTH
WORTH OF RAIN IN JUST TWO HOURS
FLOODING STREETS AND BUILDINGS
AND CAUSING OVER ONE
BILLION DOLLARS IN DAMAGES.

A clip shows a team rescuing people in a flooded area.

He continues FLOODING EVENTS ARE BECOMING
MORE AND MORE COMMON ACROSS
NORTH AMERICA AND AS CLIMATE
CHANGE CONTINUES TO DISRUPT
WEATHER AND RAINFALL PATTERNS
AROUND THE WORLD, IT S EXPECTED
THAT AGING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
WILL BE INCREASINGLY UNABLE TO
HANDLE THESE EXTREME WEATHER
EVENTS.

Alex takes a water sample from a lake and labels it.

Alex says A FEW STEPS AWAY WE
TESTED THE WATER FOR LEVELS OF
E. COLI AND COLIFORM BACTERIA
AND SENT THEM TO A NEARBY
LAB FOR ANALYSIS.
LAKE ONTARIO WATERKEEPER
REGULARLY TESTS THE
ALERTING THE PUBLIC TO THE
SERIOUSNESS OF THIS PROBLEM.

Mark says WE'VE REALLY BEEN
FIGHTING TO ENSURE THAT THE CITY
OF TORONTO WHEN THEY HAVE THESE
OVERFLOWS, THAT THEY LET THE
PUBLIC KNOW IMMEDIATELY.
BECAUSE IT'S NOT JUST THE ELEVEN
BEACHES WHERE PEOPLE SWIM
THAT ARE AFFECTED, IT'S THE
OTHER FIFTY-FIVE KILOMETERS OF
WATERFRONT AND PEOPLE THROW
STICKS TO THEIR DOGS, LET THEIR
KIDS PUT THEIR FINGERS IN, OR
THEY ROW, THEY PADDLE, THEY SAIL
IN THAT WATER, SO IT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT TO KNOW IF THERE S RAW
SEWAGE IN THAT WATER BECAUSE YOU
WANT TO TAKE STEPS TO PROTECT
YOURSELF, AND I THINK THE SECOND
REALLY IMPORTANT THING IS YOU
WANT THE PUBLIC TO BE EDUCATED
AND INFORMED SO THAT THE CITY,
WHEN IT BRINGS FORWARD PLANS TO
DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, TO
RESTORE THE WATERFRONT, TO CLEAN
IT UP, PEOPLE KNOW WHY AND THAT
THERE S A PROBLEM.

Tyler says A FEW DAYS LATER THE
RESULTS SHOW THAT THE LEVELS OF
THE MOUTH OF THE DON RIVER
THAT DAY, WERE THREE TO FOUR
HUNDRED TIMES HIGHER THAN THE
PROVINCIAL WATER QUALITY
STANDARDS CONSIDERED SAFE FOR
HUMAN AND AQUATIC LIFE.

Mark says WHAT'S SAD IN
TORONTO IS THAT ALL THE RECENT
DEVELOPMENT IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO,
ALL THE NEW CONDOS, ALL THE NEW
BUILDINGS, ARE ALL BUILT ON CSOS
SO THE PROBLEM
ISN'T GETTING BETTER.
YOU'VE ADDED THREE HUNDRED AND
FIFTY THOUSAND OR FOUR HUNDRED
THOUSAND PEOPLE TO THE PROBLEM
THAT WAS ALREADY THERE,
AND I KNOW THE CITY OF TORONTO
IS DEALING WITH IT,
AS FAST AS THE MONEY COMES IN,
BUT IT'S GOING TO TAKE A REAL
VISION FOR THIS CITY TO GET THIS
THROUGH, AND EXPLAIN TO THE
CITIZENS THE BENEFITS OF CLEAN
WATER AGAIN,
BECAUSE THEY'VE FORGOTTEN.
THEY'VE FORGOTTEN THAT THEY
DRINK FROM THIS LAKE,
THEY'VE FORGOTTEN WHAT IT'S LIKE
TO ACTUALLY HAVE A PLACE YOU CAN
GO SWIMMING IN, AND THEY'VE
FORGOTTEN WHAT IT'S LIKE TO
ACTUALLY CATCH A FISH FROM THEIR
LAKE AND EAT IT, AND THAT'S A
BIG PROBLEM.

Alex says THANKFULLY, THERE ARE
ALL HELP REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF
STORM WATER
ENTERING OUR SEWER SYSTEMS.
RAIN BARRELS AND GREEN ROOFS
THAT RETAIN WATER AND USE IT TO
TO STREETS BELOW.

Two women build an urban green roof.

He continues NEW TYPES OF PERMEABLE CONCRETE
AND SURFACES THAT ALLOW
RAINWATER TO REACH THE SOIL,
REDUCING RUNOFF TO STORM
WATER DRAINS.
HOWEVER, IT WILL ULTIMATELY BE
UP TO CITIES TO IMPLEMENT
LARGE-SCALE INVESTMENTS INTO
IMPROVING STORM WATER
MANAGEMENT.

The caption changes to "Luo Di Gironimo. General Manager. Toronto Water." Lou is in his late forties, clean-shaven and bald. He wears glasses, gray jacket and open-necked turquoise shirt.

Lou says SO IN LONG
TERM, IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS,
WE HAVE A COUNCIL APPROVED
CAPITAL PROGRAM OF
ELEVEN BILLION DOLLARS.
AND THAT COVERS ALL OF OUR WATER
AND WASTEWATER
AND STORM WATER NEEDS.

Barry says MUNICIPALITIES
ARE PUTTING HUGE INVESTMENT
INTO REPLACING THOSE SYSTEMS,
BUT WE COULD HAVE MORE MONEY
AVAILABLE TO US TO REPLACE THOSE
COMBINED SYSTEMS IF WE DIDN'T
HAVE TO SPEND SO MUCH MONEY ON
EQUIPMENT TO REMOVE OR DEAL WITH
THIS GARBAGE, RIGHT?

Fast clips show pasta falling into a boiling pot, a man washing broccoli under running water and a washing machine working.

Tyler says FOR DECADES, CITIES
HAVE BEEN UNDERCHARGING US
FOR WATER AND WE SHOULD EXPECT
OUR WATER BILLS TO GO UP ACROSS
NORTH AMERICA TO REFLECT THE
TRUE COSTS OF BOTH MAINTAINING
AND UPGRADING OUR
WATER SYSTEMS INTO THE FUTURE.

Lou says TEN YEARS AGO
WE HAD UNDERFUNDED OUR SYSTEMS
SIGNIFICANTLY AND WE STARTED A
CAMPAIGN RAISING WATER RATES
NINE PERCENT FOR NINE YEARS IN A
ROW.
WE RE GETTING CLOSER TO THAT
SUSTAINABLE LEVEL, BUT WE'RE NOT
THERE YET.

Alex says AS CITIES HAVE MORE
FUNDS AVAILABLE TO THEM, THEY
WILL BE ABLE TO INVEST IN NEW
TECHNOLOGIES TO MAKE OUR WATER
SYSTEMS EVEN MORE
EFFICIENT, COST-EFFECTIVE
AND DURABLE.
NEW METHODS HAVE BEEN
DEVELOPED FOR IDENTIFYING AND
FIXING LEAKS WITHOUT HAVING TO
DIG UP ENTIRE STREETS.
IN SOME CITIES, NEW PIPES ARE
BEING INSTALLED THAT CAN
GENERATE RENEWABLE
HYDROELECTRICITY BY CAPTURING
THE ENERGY FROM FALLING WATER
WITH TURBINES.

David says IT WOULD BE A REAL
SHAME IF THE WATER SYSTEMS WE
LEFT TO OUR CHILDREN, AND OUR
GRANDCHILDREN WERE UNABLE
TO DELIVER THE KINDS OF PUBLIC
HEALTH PROTECTION,
AND RECREATIONAL ASCETICS THAT
WE EXPECT OF OUR WATER SYSTEMS,
AND SO REALLY IT'S A CHALLENGE
TO US TO ADAPT OUR WATER SYSTEMS
FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY,
WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK.
BUT I THINK IT S SOMETHING THAT
WE RE CAPABLE OF DOING.

In slow motion, a boy plays with a water hose and a sprinkler waters a garden.

Tyler says THIS PROBLEM IS SIMPLE
TO UNDERSTAND BUT HARDER TO FIX;
REPLACING AGING WATER AND
WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE HAS
BEEN LARGELY PUT OFF BY
GOVERNMENTS FOR DECADES, BUT
THE PUBLIC IS BEGINNING TO WAKE
UP TO THIS CRISIS.

Alex says SOME LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
HAVE BEEN FORCED INTO BEING MORE
TRANSPARENT, BUT ALL NEED ACTION
PLANS TO MODERNIZE
THEIR SYSTEMS.
IT S ENCOURAGING TO SEE SOME
CITIES ALREADY MAKING
IMPROVEMENTS, BUT THE CHANGE WE
NEED WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE
WITHOUT ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL
HELP FROM TAXPAYERS AND
HIGHER LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT.

Tyler says PROVIDING THESE WATER
SERVICES IS THE MOST IMPORTANT
THING A MUNICIPALITY CAN DO FOR
ITS CITIZENS, AND THERE S SIMPLY
TOO MUCH AT STAKE TO IGNORE
THESE PROBLEMS ANY LONGER.

A slate shows two animated divers going down.

Alex says JOIN US AND DIVE
DEEPER INTO THE EPISODES
AT THEWATERBROTHERS.CA

The end credits roll.

Executive Producer, Jonathan Barker.

Host, Director and Co-Producer, Tyler Mifflin.

Host, Writer and Co-Director, Alex Mifflin.

An SK Films Production.

Copyright 2017, Water Brothers Inc.

Watch: The Big Leak