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Published: Monday, 8/11/2014

Torrential downpour contributed to algae problem with massive sewage spills

BLADE STAFF

Today‘‍s torrential downpour contributed to the algae problem with massive sewage spills, although the duration of them has not yet been quantified and posted online.

When heavy rains deluge combined sewer systems -- where storm water and sewerage can mix -- the volume can overwhelm systems and spill untreated sewage into waterways, including the Maumee. Raw sewage contributes to the development of algae blooms on Lake Erie.

Residents can check the frequency and duration of sewage spills on the Toledo Waterways Initiative Web site.

Before today, those online records show the city already had 14 spills in August.They lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to 113 minutes, and came from storms on Aug. 4 and 5.

In July, the city had 14 spills of 6 minutes to 117 minutes. In June, there were 43 spills, one lasting nearly four consecutive hours.

The site’‍s online records show a number of sewage spills have been occurring every month for years.

Unlike Michigan, Toledo does not quantify releases in gallons. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has said it past interviews it does not trust gauges which measure releases in gallons.

The state agency does not even require Toledo to publicly divulge the data above. It does so voluntarily.

The Web site also makes it possible for residents to track the city‘‍s progress as it inches along in its effort to phase out those spills through the largest expansion and upgrade of Toledo’‍s sewage system in the city‘‍s history.

The $521 million project, which began in 2003, is not scheduled to be completed until 2020. It was originally supposed to be done in 2015, but the city obtained two hardship delays because of the economy. The Web site shows the project is 62 percent complete.



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