Most of us don't really think about wastewater, but we should! Wastewater affects our quality of life in a variety of different ways. The eruption of waste from a storm sewer during a heavy rain gets our attention. But the day to day regulation and management of wastewater is an important topic that directly affects the quality of our drinking water and the enjoyment of our water resources.
What is Wastewater?
Think of wastewater as used water resulting from human activity that does not meet water quality standards.
Where Does Wastewater Come From?
This water with dissolved or suspended solids is released to surface or ground water from locations known as point source dischargers. Point source wastewater comes from a known source. Some examples of point source dischargers are paper mills, mines, industrial locations, farms, particularly Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), other commercial entities, and sewage treatment facilities.
Who Regulates Our Wastewater?
The responsibility for management or regulation of point source discharges was delegated to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1974. Regulation is through the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) program which grants wastewater permits to discharging facilities. The five year permits contain all the appropriate monitoring requirements, special reports, and compliance schedules. Permits in the Wisconsin portion of Lower Sugar River Watershed have been issued to various cheese companies and publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities in Albany, Brodhead, Juda and Orfordville. Pending is the granting of a permit to Pinnacle Dairy, LLC, a CAFO proposing to house 5,800 cows in Green County's Sylvester Township on Decatur-Sylvester Road.