Sewage Overflows Surge With April Rains

Apr 7, 2017

April showers bring hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated water into Lake Champlain, it turns out.

According to data reported to state regulators, there have been a dozen sewage overflows so far in April.

The overflows happen because some sewage systems in Vermont – known as Combined Sewer Systems – are designed to collect and treat both sewage and storm runoff. That infrastructure gets overloaded in heavy rains and releases some of the waste without treating it; the alternative is allowing waste to back up into homes and businesses.

In the early hours of April 1, high flows caused the Burlington sewage plant to release more than a million gallons of water with elevated levels of E. Coli.

The system in Saint Albans City also released more than a million gallons of sewage and stormwater on Thursday.

Rutland has had five overflows this month totaling more than 335,000 gallons of untreated water.

Officials say the overflows are a problem, but they're expensive to reduce and prevent, and those fixes have to compete against other water quality efforts for the limited funding that's available.