Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Sewer line break repaired

Officials unsure on size of sewage spill

Jodi Summit
Posted 10/11/17

TOWER- A leak in the main sewer line in Tower caused a bit of concern over the weekend. The leak was discovered Friday morning, Oct. 6, when some readings at the wastewater station indicated a …

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Sewer line break repaired

Officials unsure on size of sewage spill

Posted

TOWER- A leak in the main sewer line in Tower caused a bit of concern over the weekend. The leak was discovered Friday morning, Oct. 6, when some readings at the wastewater station indicated a possible problem, according to Wastewater Supervisor Matt Tuchel. The leak meant that untreated wastewater, including sewage, was flowing into the East Two River and eventually into Pike Bay. The city of Tower put out a notice advising no contact with the water until the leak was repaired.

The department immediately shut down the line, and started hauling wastewater using pumper trucks to the wastewater treatment ponds until the break was fixed on Monday morning.

Tuchel said finding the location of the break was a bit tricky, because of high area water levels.

“We drove the length of the forced main line from the lift station,” he said, “but we didn’t find anything. Then we started to walk the length of the line.”

Tuchel said they concentrated their efforts on the manholes, because the lines between the manholes are all plastic, and not as susceptible to breaking.

The problem was located at a manhole behind South Third Street in Tower, adjacent to the bike trail. As they were inspecting that area, a pump happened to kick on, and they noticed a little movement in the swamp area nearby.

“There was no smell, and no other indication that there was a leak there,” he said.

Tuchel said the high water levels would have prevented them from looking for a leak using a camera.

Tuchel said the break was not complete, and that some of the sewage was still traveling in the forced main. The river water dilution ratio in that area is quite high, Tuchel said, with an estimated 9,000 gallons of river water for every gallon of sewage.

Tuchel said with the recent rains, water flow at the lift station was about twice the normal flow for this time of year, so the rain water was already diluting the sewage two to one.

The department has been conducting water testing both downstream and upstream from the break. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was informed of the break immediately, and has been overseeing the testing.

The leak was at a manhole that had a broken pipe a few years ago.

The department immediately contacted a contractor, who got their excavation equipment and supplies moved in later on Friday, and the repairs got underway on Monday. The department decided to replace the entire manhole, to prevent any future problems in that area.

“We figured as long as we had the excavator in the are, we should spend the extra money so we don’t have to worry about a leak in that location for a good long time,” Tuchel said.

Update: As of Wednesday, city officials indicated that it was safe to have contact with the water in the East Two River.

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