City trying to stop wastewater from ending up in Lake Michigan

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By Daryl Bjoraas

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Every year billions of gallons of wastewater drain into Lake Michigan. The city of St. Joseph Michigan is trying to do its part to stop that from happening.

Water quality is an issue that affects all of us.

For those who live and play near Lake Michigan, they trust city leaders with keeping it clean.

Every year, more than 2 billion gallons of untreated sewage drains from sewers into the St. Joseph River. From there it trickles to Lake Michigan.

Now the EPA is pressuring local governments to do more to prevent it.

"The old line of thought was, 'The solution to pollution is dilution,'" said Tim Zebell, an engineer for the city of St. Joseph, Michigan.

The city is updating its combined sewer system by separating sewer pipes from storm drains so they are not overloaded during heavy rainfall.

After this month's construction ends, discharges will be drastically reduced - resulting in cleaner water.

"Will there never ever be another overflow again? No. It just means the frequency of them occurring is going to be much less. In fact, hardly ever," said Zebell.

Construction is set to take place in three phases - one each year.

By the end of this October, all of the city's sewer and storm lines will be separated.

Next year, their focus is monitoring flows to ensure it's working.
 

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