The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has approved rules addressing untreated sanitary sewer overflows. Current state and federal law make sewage overflows into lakes and rivers illegal. However, some exceptions are allowed under current rules. The rule revisions update Wisconsin’s regulations to be more consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory approach regarding sanitary sewerage overflows, and address some additional EPA issues to comply with the Clean Water Act.

The revised rules prohibit sanitary sewer overflows, and create a consistent set of factors that will be used to determine when and what enforcement will occur if there is noncompliance with this prohibition.
The rules also require every sewage collection system owner to develop and implement a capacity, management, operation and maintenance program to reduce the amount of rain and melting snow that enters their sewerage system,

The rule requires public notification, consistent with the system’s emergency response plan, using the most effective and efficient communications available in the community including at a minimum, notifying a daily newspaper by written or electronic communication when a sanitary sewer overflow occurs, so that the public is aware of overflows that may present a health risk. The rule also creates a process where DNR may approve permit conditions wherein a municipality may implement certain practices, such as blending, that allow efficient operations at the sewage treatment plant, but do not allow permit effluent limitations to be exceeded.

The revised rules, found in Natural Resources Chapters 110, 205, 208 and 210, will now go to lawmakers for their review.

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