MILWAUKEE (AP) -- After spending more than $1.8 million for a temporary system to catch stray condoms slipping through a sewage treatment plant, a Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District spokesman says officials are fairly confident a majority of condoms are now being caught before they can reach Lake Michigan.
Bill Graffin commented Thursday, more than two years after a fisherman reported seeing what he called a slick of thousands of condoms floating in the lake following a heavy rainstorm in April of 2003.
Initially, a single laborer armed with a swimming pool skimmer was posted at the chlorine tanks at the Jones Island treatment plant to capture condoms that survived earlier phases of screening at the plant.
The manual scooping was supplemented during the summers of 2003 and 2004, when MMSD also had the crew of the district's 43-foot research boat fishing for condoms that made it through the plant and into the harbor.
A system of 24 large nets to catch condoms was installed early last year, but officials say they clog with algae and other debris, requiring them to be changed every two or three weeks. But district officials say the net system is meant to be only a short-term fix.
They say "bar screens" with three-quarter-inch spacing which act as a sieve at the front of the plant, where raw sewage enters, will be replaced with screens with quarter-inch spacing, but that $23 million effort is not expected to be completed until 2009.
"If we need to take more steps, we don't know what they would be," Graffin said.
Milwaukee Making Progress on Stray Condoms
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