Untreated wastewater pumped into Winnebago River

The DNR is monitoring the situation, and is advising people, especially with children and pets, to stay away from the river 24 hours after repairs are completed.

Posted: Jun 18, 2018 9:05 PM
Updated: Jun 19, 2018 7:51 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Last week's sewer pipe collapse on South Rhode Island Ave. is forcing city officials to pump raw, untreated wastewater from a storm sewer into the Winnebago River.

The sewage is being discharged from a location near the softball fields on 2nd Street NE.

McKenzie Hughes and her 2-year-old daughter were at East Park, which sits upstream from the discharge site, around midday on Monday, and was very concerned about the problem and hopes it gets fixed soon.

"It does a little bit, because I have a daughter and I don't want anything to happen to her with the water contamination," Hughes says.

Because wastewater can contain bacteria such as E. Coli, Hughes hopes people heed the warning.

"It should be, but there's some kids that'll just go out and be in there," Hughes adds.

Joe Bohl, utility supervisor with the city's Operation and Maintenance department, says this is not uncommon where untreated wastewater may have to be released into a river because of an issue like a sewer collapse, though they try to avoid it if possible. While Bohl did not have an exact date on when the repairs will be finished, he hopes they are completed this week.

The affected neighborhood includes residents that live between Highway 122 and 15th Street SE, and from S. Virginia Ave. to S. Kentucky Ave.

The Cerro Gordo Department of Public Health says that if you happen to come into contact with the water, you should immediately wash your hands or bathe if necessary, and wash any contaminated clothing in hot water.

The DNR is monitoring the situation, and is advising people, especially with children and pets, to stay away from the river 24 hours after repairs are completed. In addition, they expect the impact to fish and aquatic life to be minimal at this time.

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