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Heavy rain in a short period of time this week: Several communities forced to pump water into Lake Michigan

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FOX POINT (WITI) -- Too much, too fast! Downpours during storms that rolled through on Tuesday night forced several communities to pump excess water into Lake Michigan.

When a storm dumps heavy rain onto already saturated ground, a lot of that water flows into the sewer system, and that can be a problem.

"We don`t have to resort to these measures very often," Fox Point Director of Public Works Scott Brandmeier said.

Three-and-a-half inches of rain caused the Fox Point lift station to overflow.

On Thursday, it was back to running smoothly.

"Water levels were rising in our lift stations and if we did not act it might have started backing up into residents' basements," Brandmeier said.

Brandmeier says the village dropped pumps into select manholes to pump untreated water into Lake Michigan. It is something Fox Point hadn't done in three years.

"It`s usually only in the extremely wet weather events where you get high intensity storms in a short period of time," Brandmeier said.

Fox Point wasn't alone. Mequon, Brown Deer and Milwaukee were among those that also reported pumping excess waste and water into waterways.

The brownish water now seen along the shore of Lake Michigan might be perceived as that sewage, but Brandmeier says what can actually be seen is sediment.

Brandmeier took video showing brown storm water rushing down the side of a ravine.

"It`s the wood chips, the landscape material, the fertilizers -- a lot that is going into the lake," Brandmeier said.

The water being pumped into the sewers was actually clear -- though untreated.

With more rain in the forecast, it's an action they may have to repeat.

"I hope we don`t but it`s always possible because the ground is very saturated at this time," Brandmeier said.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District also discharged a combined storm and sewage mixture into Lake Michigan.

That was a much higher volume than in Fox Point, but there is no estimate as to how much was dumped.