Minimal environmental damage seen
The environmental impact of a sewage leak discovered Saturday into Storm Lake is being called minimal, though every spill is considered a serious matter, says the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
"Anytime sewage is going into the lake it is a serious matter," said Julie Sievers, environmental specialist with the DNR. "We took action Saturday to stop the leak and we're following up first thing Monday morning to make sure the problem is eliminated and never happens again."
A citizen noticed the leak Saturday afternoon and called in to the communications center. The DNR along with the City of Storm Lake, the Buena Vista County sanitarian and the Buena Vista County Sheriff's Office also responded to the incident.
City crews along with a sewer rehab company out of Cherokee spent yesterday using a submersible camera to investigate a stretch of storm and sanitary sewer pipes along College Avenue in search of the source for the spill.
By midday, crews had televised 400 feet of the sewer but had not found the reason for Saturday's leak. Another 400 feet were to be checked out in the afternoon.
According to Sievers, the sewage leak has not resulted in any fish kill or other long-term damage.
The leak was discovered Saturday afternoon by a man walking his dog. He apparently noticed the sewage flowing out of the No. 28 outlet in Circle Park. A blue sign urging citizens to report leaks to the communications center was posted next to this outlet.
Barb Lynch, bureau of chief of field services and compliance for the DNR, said by late Saturday afternoon the sewage flow was approximately 25 gallons per minute. It appeared to have stopped by early Saturday evening.
No additional flow has been spotted since, Sievers said yesterday.
Authorities don't know how much raw sewage got into the lake because they don't know when it started, but the flow coming from the sewer was running below full capacity, Lynch said.
"We would expect this to have minimal impact on the lake given the colder conditions and relatively small amounts, but we want this corrected as soon as possible," she said.
Sievers said the city has been very responsive in trying to find the problem and fix it.
Lynch said there was a similar problem two or three years ago in the same area of Storm Lake where there was a cross-connection. That was caused by a broken sanitary sewer line overflowing into the storm sewer.
The DNR is hopeful that yesterday's efforts will identify the source of Saturday's leak.
"We thank the city and U.S. Filter, and the county and sheriff's department," Lynch said. "They've all been tremendous and very helpful."