No swimming at 4 Burlington beaches due to sewage disinfection problem

Sewage in Lake Champlain

The Burlington Department of Public Works is recommending no swimming at four of the city’s public beaches until at least Monday. The advisory follows a problem at the city’s main sewage treatment plant Friday night.

DPW officials say the plant’s disinfection system failed shortly before 9:00 p.m., leading the plant to release about 1.4 million gallons of water into Lake Champlain that hadn’t been completely disinfected first. We’re told that it took a little less than an hour to get a backup disinfection system operational. The department also says part of the discharge was stormwater runoff from Friday’s heavy rain, while part of it was wastewater that had been treated but not disinfected.

DPW officials are still investigating what happened, but based on what they know so far, they believe the disinfection tank at the plant simply ran out of bleach faster than it should have.

The department is expecting bacteria levels in portions of the lake near the plant to be higher than usual for 48 hours as a result of the disinfection failure.

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