The DNR Board has passed a rule that department staff say will eventually lead to cleaner lakes and rivers.
State and federal laws already ban most sanitary sewage overflows into lakes and rivers. But some exceptions are allowed. The rule passed by the DNR Board Wednesday will make communities that own sanitary sewage collection systems develop a long-term maintenance program to reduce the amount of rain and melting snow that enters the system. DNR consultant Duane Schuettpelz says it may take a while to see water quality improvements, "The short-term impact won't be huge, but the long term will see benefits."
Schuettpelz says some communities may qualify for state or federal loans. The rule also calls for timely public notice of a sanitary sewer overflow, so water users are aware of a potential health risk. In some cases during heavy storms, communities may be allowed to skip a secondary sewage treatment process, as long as effluent limits are still met.