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.