Underground in places nobody likes to look, bacteria are doing terrible things to our sewage pipes. The concrete pipes that carry our waste are literally dissolving away, forcing engineers into a messy, expensive battle against tiny microbes.
“The veins of our cities are in serious trouble, and they’re in serious trouble because of corrosion, and this corrosion has been unanticipated and it’s accelerating,” said Mark Hernandez at a symposium on the microbiology of the built environment in Washington DC yesterday. Hernandez is a civil engineer, but he’s meeting with microbiologists because this problem is bacterial. Essentially, it’s an infection of the nation’s sewage system.
Now this could really bring us down- our underground sewer pipes simply dissolving. It makes sense.
Some bacteria turn sewage into hydrogen sulfide. Others turn the hydrogen sulfide int sulfuric acid, which dissolves the concrete.
In The Andromeda Strain, the foreign organisms ate through plastic. Here we have normal organisms eating through concrete.
Hope we find a solution that works.