MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This weekend’s rain forced one Twin Cities suburb to send untreated waste water into nearby lakes. Now, the City of Mound is warning people to stay out of the water because of possible E-coli contamination.
Two days of heavy rain overwhelmed the city’s sewer system, which threatened to back up into people’s homes. So, city leaders decided to divert the untreated sewage into the storm drains, which eventually flow into the lake.
As of Monday morning, untreated waste water was no longer being funneled to the storm drain system. The diversion effort was called off just after midnight Monday, but for 14 hours that untreated sewage was flowing into Lake Minnetonka, Lake Langdon and Dutch Lake.
Even though the untreated sewage was very diluted, the E. coli still poses a possible health risk.
The city, under direction from the Minnesota Health Department, will begin testing waters over the next two weeks. They will continue tests until they show it is safe for people to be in and around the water.
City Manager Kandis Hansen says community members have criticized the city for their decision, but she argues it was a decision made on the advice of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
While this step helped relieve the sewer system, Hansen said about 50 homes did experience some backup. And with an aging system and growing population, there’s concern this could happen again.
“We’ve run into rains that deluge the city and cause other kinds of havoc, but we haven’t had to divert the sewer water into the storm system, ever, in the past, as far as I’m aware,” Hansen said.
Hansen said in a recent press release that the Mound system flows into the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, which operates the regional waste water collection. The heavy rains from around the region put strain on the MCES, causing the city’s choice to divert the waste water.
The untreated waste water was released at six different sites around Mound.
The four sites near Lake Minnetonka were lagoon at Emerald Road and Channel Lane, Beachside outfall at Shorewood, the Avalon Park outfall at Bartlett Boulevard; and Lynwood at Morton Channel.
Near Lake Langdon, water was released near Cottonwood and Lynwood. On Dutch Lake, sewage was redirected near the Grandview boat launch.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, E. coli can cause severe diarrhea, nausea, headaches and fatigue. Young children and the elderly are usually more susceptible.
Mound is not the only area dealing with problems from the weekend rain.
A mobile home park in Princeton is cleaning up from the strong winds that blew through there Saturday night. More than a dozen large trees came up from the soggy ground at Sherburne Village. Several homes and cars were damaged, but thankfully no one was hurt. The wind was able to pull up trees by their roots, concrete and all.
“We were here and everything was fine. There was no weather warnings, not even a thunderstorm watch and the wind picked up and we came outside and this is what we came out to,” said Janelle Whitcomb, the park manager at Sherburne Village.
Two homeowners in Eden Prairie are also dealing with a massive sink hole that has damaged the area between the two residences. The land collapsed between the two homes on Sunday with all the moisture in the ground.