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Environment & Science

Song of the Week: "Deck Shoes," for the US's largest sewage no-discharge zone

Cowes Week is an enormous regatta on the Isle of Wight. A deck shoe boat is an enormous deck shoe.
Cowes Week is an enormous regatta on the Isle of Wight. A deck shoe boat is an enormous deck shoe.

Apologies for the absence last week of what is likely your favorite part of the week, Song of the Week. Family matters forced my overlords to unshackle me from the blogging desk. Been out of commission for several days.

However, on this shortened week, I returned in time to report that the EPA and California are finally on the same page, and cruise ships and cargo vessels no longer can drop even treated sewage in state waters.

As far as I'm concerned, David Foster Wallace wrote the only nonfiction essay about the cruise ship industry; "The Love Boat" is the only television show to get down on the gritty below-decks politics of what happens when Halston, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Geoffrey Beene all guest star with Colonel Henry Blake from M*A*S*H, stop being polite and start being real; and The Greyboy Allstars have written the only funky song about strolling around the Lido deck. Song of the Week is "Deck Shoes," for the EPA and the cruise ship industry.

The state ban has been 7 years in coming; Cal EPA had to petition federal authorities for authority to enforce it. There are ways it's not very significant: while the federales emphasize that it'll keep 22 million gallons of treated wastewater out of coastal waters, it's worth knowing that hundreds of millions of gallons a day of treated wastewater continues to go into coastal waters from onshore sources, i.e., at least one refinery, and municipal treatment plants. Still, those discharges have to meet pretty high standards. And this is the first wall-to-wall (state line to state line) ban, along 1600-plus miles of coastline, that the EPA has authorized. They're looking at Seattle and Hawaii next. 

While you're listening to "Deck Shoes," maybe try imagining yourself boogie-ing around the promenade deck. No, I don't know much about cruise ship decks either. But I do know that deck shoes have white, non-scuffing bottoms. And you probably don't want solid waste on the bottom of your top-siders. So why would you want treated bilgewater in your ocean? Billions of blistering blue barnacles!

Listen to all of the songs of the week, 2012 style.