In the early 1990s, Donald Trump was forbidden from going forward with a proposed $3 billion land development in Upper Westside Manhattan since the city could not accommodate the extra sewage that would be produced. At that time, sewage levels from the Upper Westside exceeded treatment plant capacity by 30 million gallons per day, with all that extra sewage flowing untreated into the Hudson River. Mysteriously, tens of millions of gallons of sewage disappeared one day, and politicians changed their tune about Trump’s proposed development – evidence that points to corruption.
Trump’s development, known as South River, was expected to produce an additional 5 million gallons of raw sewage per day. Borough President of Manhattan Ruth Messinger was a staunch opponent to the project, which would have increased the environmental tragedy of the raw sewage by over 16%.
And then one day, 24 million gallons of sewage disappeared. Government-employed civil engineer Rich Herschlag was the first to notice the anomaly. He reported it to Messinger, prompting U.S. Attorney for Manhattan Mary Jo White to launch an investigation. The incident reeked of corruption and foul play.
Abruptly, the investigation stopped. Attorney White dropped her investigation, Messinger fell silent on the investigation and came out in favor of Trump’s South River project, and Herschlag lost his government job for refusing to stay quiet about the sewage scandal.
Later, Herschlag found that there were two independent sets of sewage flow data: one from the entrance of the treatment plant, and one from the collector pipes. The meter at the entrance of the plant had been tampered with and read 24 million gallons too little. The meter in the collector pipes showed the true amount of sewage, and accounted for the missing 24 million gallons.
Unfortunately, politics ignored Herschlag’s bad news and ushered in South River, at significant expense to the environment. There is no evidence that decisively proves that Trump tampered with sewage data and bribed politicians to end their investigation of the fraud, all to preserve his $3 billion stake in the Upper Westside. However, the circumstances are decidedly suspicious. It is no secret that Trump puts wealth and personal gain above almost all else. Perhaps he did engage in corruption and deliberate pollution to avoid a deal gone bad; we may never know for sure.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.