News Briefs: Hurricane Florence Tests the Carolinas' Sewer/Water Infrastructure

In this week's sewer and water news, Hurricane Florence is causing problems for sewer systems and treatment plants in the Carolinas

Numerous sewer systems and treatment plants have been overwhelmed in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, as the storm tested the infrastructure of the Carolinas.

Reggie Cheatham, EPA’s director of emergency management, told reporters in a teleconference that the agency had seen releases of wastewater from manholes and from overflowing sewer systems, adding that a wastewater plant in Onslow County, North Carolina, experienced a catastrophic failure.

“They basically had to deal with the storm surge, loss of power, and obviously shut down pumps and the system completely depressurized and they haven’t been able to bring that back up,” he said, according to the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the city of Wilmington’s wastewater system released 5.25 million gallons of wastewater into the Cape Fear River. Access to the outside world was cut off for some time in Wilmington due to flooding, and the water treatment plant was at risk of shutting down due to lack of fuel. A route was opened on Monday.

With Flint in Mind, Waukesha Prepares for Transition to Lake Michigan Water Supply

To avoid making the same mistakes as Flint, Michigan, the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, is taking precautions almost five years in advance of its planned transition to using Lake Michigan for its water supply.

Plans are in the works for the city to distribute water sourced from Lake Michigan to Milwaukee by 2023, but there are concerns about the switch causing lead to leach out of pipes in the distribution system.

That’s why workers are mimicking the conditions of the switch in a test. They removed sections of copper pipe with lead joints from area residences and hooked them to iron service lines at Grange Pumping Station, where they will be monitored for the next eight months.

Cleveland Utility Tests for Lead, But Allegedly Avoids High-Risk Areas

Recent testing of Cleveland, Ohio’s tap water shows little to no lead contamination, but reporters in the city say the water utility didn’t test many locations in Cleveland’s poorest neighborhoods.

In many cases, the utility also used samples collected from the homes of water department employees. While technically allowed by state regulators, the practice of using city employees’ water samples have some residents of high-risk areas concerned.

“I think there’s a distinction between being compliant and being equitable,” Bianca Butts of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress told


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