Heavy rain causes wastewater to overflow into Wisconsin River in Wisconsin Rapids

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 10:00 AM CDT
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) - The city of Wisconsin Rapids has confirmed heavy rainfall on Friday is to blame for causing wastewater to flow into the Wisconsin River.

According to a news release from the city, around 7:30 a.m. on July 15, the sanitary sewer interceptor was overtaken by rainwater off Second Avenue S., just south of the roundabout. Rainfall was recorded from 3.9 inches to 5.25 inches in this collection area.

The city’s Wastewater Superintendent Derek Budsberg said the city got double the amount of water as usual and the system just couldn’t handle it.

“Basically that water couldn’t flow through our collection system fast enough and went out our emergency overflows that we have to protect basements from getting backed up,” said Budsberg.

Approximately 165,000 gallons of diluted wastewater overflowed from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. into the Wisconsin River. Areas affected would be the Upper Wisconsin River Southern Sub-Basin in Wood County.

The emergency overflow protects homes in the area from backing up, but then the waste gets deposited into the river.

“Swimming and all of those recreational activities are fine. That water that went to the river is very diluted, especially mixing in with the river water itself there’s really nothing to worry about,” said Budsberg.

Wisconsin Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant is working to prevent a re-occurrence by maintaining infrastructure through televising, cleaning, lining, and grouting sewer mains.

Residents should also ensure that they have properly installed drain tile, sump pumps, and roof drains that are hooked up to the stormwater collection system and not the sanitary sewer. It is a violation of the city’s ordinance if residents have such cross-connections.

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