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Rain Causes Sewage Overflows, Water Okay to Swim

As we all know the last two months full of rainy days have done a lot of damage statewide.

As we all know the last two months full of rainy days have done a lot of damage statewide.

And they've caused nine sewage overflows in Vermont waterways - in the last month alone.

The leaks caused some alarm online from people worried about the quality of the lakes and rivers and whether or not it's safe to swim.

While nine sewage over flows - is nine too many, the bottom line is the rain is to blame.

"The system can't handle it, so it just overflows into the nearby waterways, or in some cases right into the lake," said Ross Saxton, with Lake Champlain International.

That's what happened in nine sewage pump stations across the state- during the last month alone.

The most recent- two over flows on July fourth- one in Middlebury and one in Burlington.

"That station was taking on significant flow, so much so we were tanking out of the pump station," said Laurie Adams, Assistant Director with Public Works Water Quality.

Adams says that system overflowed because it took on storm water- when it shouldn't have.

"When you have a whole emergency storage tank and curb to curb water running on the street, I can't give a percentage, but clearly the greatest volume was the runoff," said Adams.

And that run-off made it into the lake.

"We won't stop until we figure out how to prevent the storm flow from getting into the separate system," said Adams.

While Mother Nature is to blame- the group- Lake Champlain International is worried it will continue to happen.

"This problem is happening all over Vermont- the entire state. And it's not just happening from one facility it's happening from facilities in many towns," said Saxton.

But the group's biggest concern- they say the state has a delay in reporting these spills to the public.

"We didn't know about them until after the holiday weekend- yesterday- why wasn't the state letting people know before everyone was out swimming this weekend," said Saxton.

For those of you who were swimming this weekend- unless you were swimming near the sewage plant- there's not much to worry about.

Sarah Vose with the state Health Department says if you were swimming near the spill- there is a small risk of becoming sick -with a stomach bug type illness - if you swallowed contaminated water.

But Vose says with the spills statewide- there has been no risk to the drinking water.

Really - the risk to your health - all depends on how much is spilled and how often.  But the question of how much- is for the most part unknown.

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