Illinois Town OKs Work on Sanitary Sewer Overflow Plan

Jan. 20, 2005

When severe weather hits, sometimes Wheaton, Ill., can be a bit more full of "it" than normal.

"It" in this case is whatever may be flowing through the city's sanitary sewer system whenever an overflow occurs.

Such unintentional overflows of raw sewage are not uncommon for municipal sanitary sewer systems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are at least 40,000 such overflows across the country every year. In addition to bad weather, factors such as improper system operation and maintenance or vandalism can cause an overflow.

When they happen, sewage can contaminate water and back up into basements causing health problems in the area.

Pending EPA guidelines for such incidents are leading Wheaton and the Wheaton Sanitary District to develop response plans for when an overflow occurs.

Nearly two-thirds of the city's sanitary sewer system connects to the district's system and treatment plant.

The city and the district have approved a $556,000 contract with an engineering firm to develop a capacity, management, operations and maintenance audit and plan as well as a sanitary sewer overflow response plan.

The two bodies will split the costs equally at roughly $278,000 each. The city budget currently contains $200,000 for development of the plans. In approving the contract Tuesday night, city officials did not say where the remaining money would come from.

The sanitary district is also having a sewer system evaluation study performed. It will help the district qualify for low-interest loans from the Illinois EPA, which can be used to pay for future treatment plant improvements.

Source: Daily Herald