Leak leads to sanitary sewer spill into Mississippi at Muscatine

MUSCATINE, Iowa -- An overflowing sanitary sewer is discharging small amounts of untreated wastewater into the Mississippi River and could take a day or longer to be repaired, city officials announced in a media release on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

The leak was observed at the intersection of Day, Birch and Nebraska streets on Tuesday. To repair the leak, crews had to turn off a sewer system lift station, which resulted in the overflow.

Officials estimate that three million gallons of untreated wastewater was discharged into the Mississippi River between 5 p.m. Tuesday and 5 p.m. Wednesday, or about 2,100 gallons per minute. The Mississippi is currently flowing at approximately 45 million gallons per minute.

The city said no health hazards are expected due to the limited use of the river at this time, but did note that  water quality immediately downstream of the discharge may not meet state standards for fishing and swimming and contact should be avoided. The lift station tunnel discharges upstream from the old boat landing on the city's riverfront, the release added.

“We prepped the area Monday afternoon and notified the Iowa Department of Natural Resources,” said Jon Koch, director of the Muscatine water pollution control plant. “We also asked the residents around Briar’s Ditch to avoid walking in the affected area and to not enter Briar’s Ditch until the leak is repaired.”

The intersection at Day/Birch/Nebraska remains closed while repairs continue and it is not known how long the intersection will be closed or when repairs will be completed.