What Can Be Done About Vermont’s Aging Sewer Systems?

When the federal Clean Water Act passed in 1972, many parts of the state still didn’t have treatment plants.
When the systems overload like that, they can either allow that excess sewage and stormwater to back up into homes and businesses (which everyone seems to agree is not a good idea) or use “Combined Sewer Overflows.” The overflows are parts of the system designed to deal with overloads by simply letting some of that untreated sewage and stormwater go.
Instead of flowing to the treatment plant, it flows directly into a river or stream instead.
To get a better sense of how these systems work and what’s being done to stop overflows, we visited Rutland, where our question-asker Mike grew up, and where Taylor has done some previous reporting about sewage overflows.
Send the sewage to the treatment plant, and treat stormwater on its own, so it doesn’t cause overflows.
But Jeff Wennberg does see a different answer here: one that would keep combined sewer systems, but try to reduce overflows.
Albrecht says the idea with green infrastructure is to let stormwater do what it used to do.
Separate sewage from stormwater where it makes sense, slow the stormwater down so there’s less to deal with, and keep investing in the systems we’ve got.
This is how he put it back in 2015: “There’s no problem here with any of this infrastructure that can’t be fixed.
So, again, why isn’t Deen’s Natural Resources Committee throwing money at the sewer overflow issue?

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