Friday, February 3, 2012

Lake Michigan Contamination Investigation Leads to New Potential Sources

By: Duane Craig

Where Milwaukee meets Lake Michigan there is human sewage in the water, and there has been for years. What is new, though, is that the sewage might be coming from sources not previously investigated, and those sources might help to explain similar sewage contamination across the country.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Water Institute is studying the possibility that sewage along the city's waterfront is coming from residents' lateral sanitary sewage connections and not from overflows of the wastewater treatment plant, according to this article in

Milwaukee water contamination source still unknown

Crews are investigating the lateral lines that run from homes to the main sewer line to try to see if there are significant leaks at those locations. There are about 3,000 miles of those lines, though, so the city is requesting that residents flood their lawns with water, hoping that if there are leaks in the lateral lines, the fresh water will show up in the system near those lines that are leaking.

Residents, however, are not keen on the whole plan but stopped short of saying why, other than saying they did not see the sense in it. If the lateral lines are the source of the leaks that are contaminating the waterfront, then they would have to be repaired at homeowner expense because they are the responsibility of the homeowners. There is a possibility, however, that if the problems are widespread enough the city might be on the hook for the tab.

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