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Great Lakes Article:

EPA regional administrator calls for Milwaukee sewer fix
Associated Press
Published June 9, 2004

MILWAUKEE - The dumping of 4.6 billion gallons of untreated sewage into Lake Michigan at Milwaukee last month is an extremely serious problem and swift action should be taken, the regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.

"Whether this was a once-in-five-year event or a once-in-95-year event, dumping that kind of volume into the lake is not acceptable," Thomas Skinner said Tuesday in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

He said the EPA's technical staff will help devise solutions, which he predicted will be "complex, expensive and time-consuming."

Although most communities have some overflows of untreated sewage, the volume released this spring when heavy rains hit Milwaukee far exceeds that of any other Lake Michigan community and is one of the worst of the Great Lakes region, Skinner said.

"Almost every city on the Great Lakes has problems, but Milwaukee's are of a level that are significantly greater than many other cities," Skinner said.

Chicago has rarely dumped untreated sewage into Lake Michigan in recent years, Skinner said.

Skinner said the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has relied for a long time on its deep-tunnel system as the sole solution to dumping problems.

"It is now proving not to be the comprehensive solution to the problem," Skinner said.

Adding capacity to the tunnel system may turn out to be only one of several potential solutions, he said.

MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer agreed that the dumping was unacceptable and said he welcomed any EPA help in crafting a solution.

Shafer suggested a variety of possible moves, including adding tunnel links, expanding treatment plant capacity, and cutting infiltration of rainwater into sewers.

He called the tunnel the first phase of an ongoing program of local sewer improvements.


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