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Wastewater discharge into Rock River addressed by city

Lyon County Reporter of Rock Rapids, Iowa

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently investigated wastewater discharge into the Rock River in Rock Rapids. At about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, a city utility operator noted a lack of inflow to the Rock Rapids wastewater treatment plant southeast of town. By 7:30 p.m. wastewater was rerouted to a high-flow line that directed the wastewater to a holding basin used during high-water conditions at the plant.

The following day, city utility and Iowa DNR personnel traced the leak to a break in an 8-inch force main underneath the Rock River. The DNR reported that 56,000 gallons of wastewater had been released into the river before action was taken to reroute the waste. "It was the quick action of our employee that kept the release to a minimum," stated Jim Hoye, Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities general manager.

A tie-in pipe was attached to the original pipeline 100 feet from the east riverbank the morning of Oct. 29, which allowed the waste to once again flow to the plant. "We have made those temporary changes, however (the tie-in pipeline) can't stay above ground through the winter," said Hoye "Within the next few days we will be looking at permanent options."

The break was discovered by blowing air back through the pipe and tracing where the air was released from the pipe, which was located within the river about 5 feet from the east riverbank. The pipeline itself is 65 years old, and Hoye stated that age was the primary reason the pipe broke.

The DNR was notified immediately when the leak was first discovered, who then alerted local municipals downstream along the river flow. They will continue to monitor repairs.

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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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