ASHLAND, WI — With rain falling along the south shore, the city of Ashland is dealing with a problem that’s become all too familiar there.
The city’s outdated sewer system is unable to keep up, forcing sewage to be dumped into Lake Superior.
“With all the rain we’re collecting, it’s a heavy load on our collection system,” Ashland Utilities Manager Chanz Green said. “Right now, we’re experiencing a couple sewer back ups.”
As water levels continue to rise, the Ashland public works crew says the city has no choice.
“Lake Superior is the biggest asset we have,” Green said. “We want to take care of it, and so to be dumping this dirty water, raw sewage into it on a regular basis isn’t a good thing.”
Officials say over 75 million gallons of sewage has spilled into Lake Superior since 2013.
“Until we can correct them — direct connections and infiltration — it will continue to happen, yes.”
Those corrections, they say, will start this summer.
“We know how to fix the problems, we just need to find where the problems are, and I think this summer, with the investigative work we’re going to do, we will eliminate some of that stuff,” Green said.
Beginning with smoke testing and cleaning sewer mains, the full project is projected to cost the city millions of dollars. It’s an issue that will not be fixed overnight.
“This is a five year, 10 year plan possibly, you know, depending on how many problems we find, and where they all lie as well,” Green said.
In the meantime, city officials will hope for a dry summer and continue to monitor the issue.