Niles Utility must report water discharge procedurePublished 10:33am Tuesday, December 22, 2009
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
An important development in the way the Niles Utility Department discharges water into the wastewater treatment plant and then into the St. Joseph River could take place in the coming year.
By the end of 2010, the Utilities Department must report to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality if its discharge system is a combined or separated system. A combined system flows both sanitary and storm water in a single pipe into the plant where it is treated and then discharged into the river, while a separated system separates the two into separate pipes.
With a combined system during a wet weather event, the wastewater can exceed the capacity of the plant and overflow directly into the river.
If the department determines that 90 percent or more of the system in the city is separate, the whole system must be separated, which would be a “major expenditure” for the department, according to Utilities Department Manager Jim Lehmkul. Just how expensive it would be is not yet known.
The department plans to use 2010 as a study year to determine what type of system it is and then report it to the DEQ.