Wausau city contractor improperly pumped stormwater into Wisconsin River

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) Pooled stormwater from the Thomas Street reconstruction project was improperly discharged into the Wisconsin River by a Wausau city contracted crew, city officials announced Monday.

According to a press release from the Wausau Department of Public Works, on June 18 the city's contractor was removing rain water from a low lying area along Thomas Street and pumped it directly into the Wisconsin River.

The release states the water needs to be removed from the low area every time it rains. The correct and previous removal process was to pump the water into a vacant lot where it would be contained and soak into the ground.

Last Monday one of the contractor's crew members ran a discharge hose directly into the river. The city inspector spoke with the foreman to correct the issue. City officials say they did not know about the improper discharge until a resident brought it to their attention.

"Typically from the start of the project they would pump it onto a vacant piece of property and contained there and any sediment would be cleaned up at a later date. For whatever reason one of the crew members took it upon themselves to extend that pipe outside the construction site and towards the river," explained Eric Lindman, Director Public Works for the city of Wausau.

According to the release, the city notified the contractor and advised the crew that they are fully responsible for proper stormwater discharge during the construction project and that direct discharge into the river is not compliant with the city's stormwater management plan.

The city inspector also advised the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources about the two incidents.

In compliance with the stormwater permit issued by the DNR, the city says its inspector reviews erosion and sediment controls at minimum once a week after each rain event. Officials say the city will continue to remain compliant with the permit and work diligently to make sure the contractor follows the stormwater management plan for the project.

The resident says he is happy with result. "Very pleased with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Thanks to the department for making sure the discharge did cease and hopefully doesn't happen again," said Tom Kilian.

The city says the DNR is still weighing all their options which could range from filing a notice or even fines. If they do decide to pursue any action it would fall to the contractor and not the city.