Storm Team 4

MMSD releases sewage from combined system because of flooding

CREATED Apr 18, 2013 - UPDATED: Apr 18, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - Heavy rains are putting major stresses on the area's sewers.

Authorities are asking people to use less water, while the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is releasing raw sewage along with the excess rainwater.

"At about 4:30 this morning, we initiated a combined sewer overflow.  Treatment plants are maxed out...we have another inch of rain on the way," said Bill Graffin of MMSD to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Michelle Richards.

"It's untreated wastewater and stormwater...the DNR tells us they estimate the combined sewer overflows are 95 percent stormwater."

MMSD says every inch of rain equals about seven billion gallons of water into the sewer system.

"We're trying to do all we can to limit discharges into the lake, but also to make sure we don't have basement backups as well," said Mayor Tom Barrett.

Authorities are asking people to limit the amount of water you use, while they do their best to pump wastewater through their system at Jones Island, mix it with chlorine and then dump it into Lake Michigan.

They take that step to prevent backups in people's basements.

Wauwatosa is among the many communities also asking people to cut back on water use.

They recommend taking shorter showers, turning off water then brushing your teeth and holding off on doing laundry until the storm passes.

They also are asking people to help clear sewer grates of leaves and other debris.

"It's been raining so much, it's really not a factor right now.  You don't need city water to grow your grass," said John Parker, who lives in Wauwatosa.