Sewage allowed to bypass into Lake Minnetonka, no swimming advis - KMSP-TV

Sewage allowed to bypass into Lake Minnetonka, no swimming advised

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MOUND, Minn. (KMSP) - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has given permission to the city of Mound to bypass the untreated sewage into Lake Minnetonka, Dutch Lake and Langdon Lake because their sanitation system was "overwhelmed" during heavy weekend rains -- but the emergency release came to late for several homeowners.

Officials stress that the untreated sewage was strained and will be diluted once it reaches the greater bodies of water, but officials warned that the level of E. coli bacteria will increase and could cause illness. In turn, the agency is advising swimmers steer clear and avoid swimming in the area.

SEWAGE RELEASE: Mound sanitation system 'overwhelmed' by rain
MORE: Waterborne illnesses


Mound is located on the far west side of Lake Minnetonka, and officials have posted signs on some beaches to warn that they will remain closed due to the E. coli risk until the Health Department gives the all-clear.

City leaders in Mound are hiring a company to test the waters a couple of times a week as directed by the MPCA; however, those who live on the lakes are wondering why the discharge was necessary at all.

"Why this year? Why would this rain -- this unprecedented amount of rain that we have all seen before in Minnesota -- cause a sewer backup that destroyed our basement?" Alicia Hanson asked.

The Hansons told Fox 9 News they are looking at between $30,000 and $40,000 in damages because sewage was gushing out of their toilet for about 14 hours. A neighbor further up the street, Scott Thoma, estimated the clean-up alone will cost him $4,000, and total repairs will push $10,000 -- the limit for sewage damage on his homeowner's policy. 

The Thoma family spent their Sunday pumping sewage that backed up into their basement, but the mess was still a pungent problem come Monday. Meanwhile, city leaders worked explain that even though they set up pumps to divert sewer water into the storm system, both the city's sewer lines and the Met Council pipes hit capacity because groundwater naturally seeps through the cracks.

According to the Met Council, this is an issue that occurs every time a large amount of rain falls, but they are working on developing sewer lines that are more resistant to an in-flow of groundwater rather than making the sewer line bigger.

Lake Minnetonka reached a record-high lake level of 930.64 feet on Monday. The topping the previous record of 930.56 feet set on Sunday. Prior to this past weekend, the highest recorded level was 930.52 on Sept. 7, 2002, according to the National Weather Service. Records date back to 1906.

PHOTOS: 17 photos of weekend flooding
MORE: Rapid rise in Minnehaha Creek

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