SEWER STRAIN: 18 metro communities asked to watch basements - KMSP-TV

SEWER STRAIN: 18 metro communities asked to watch basements

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Pumping untreated sewage near Lake Minnetonka on June 1, 2014. Photo by Bill Keller. Pumping untreated sewage near Lake Minnetonka on June 1, 2014. Photo by Bill Keller.

On Thursday, the Metropolitan Council confirmed that the high volume of storm water flowing into the collection system is causing overflows and backups, and they're asking residents to monitor basements for 24 hours.

“We’re experiencing a rain event similar to June 1, but more widespread,” said Bryce Pickart, acting general manager of MCES. “In parts of the region, we are running wastewater pumping stations and regional sewers beyond their designed maximum operating capacities in an effort to keep up with the rainwater that is entering the sanitary sewer systems.”

Officials notified the state's duty officer that sewage spilled into the Maxwell and Carmen Bays of Lake Minnetonka on Thursday, as well as into the Mississippi River near Wabasha Street and Humboldt Avenue in St. Paul. Sewage spills also occurred at Medicine Lake and Bassett Creek.

The Metropolitan Council owns and operates the regional wastewater collection and treatment system, which carries wastewater from 107 metro municipalities to seven area treatment plants -- a fact that was not lost on the Mound residents who took issue with their decision to pump sewage into Lake Minnetonka earlier this month

MORE: Mound City Council gets earful over sewage release, damage

A statement from Pickart echoed the message the Met Council delivered after sewage began backing up on June 1 -- that the sewer systems simply aren't designed to handle several inches of rainfall.

SEVERAL COMMUNITIES STRUGGLE WITH HIGH FLOW

As Met Council staff continues to monitor flows, they have identified several areas with especially high strain. Those include:

- Burnsville

- Chanhassen

- Chaska

- Excelsior

- Forest Lake

- Hopkins

- Maple Plain

- Minnetrista

- Mound

- New Hope

- North St. Paul

- Orono

- Plymouth

- Savage

- South St. Paul

- St. Bonifacius

- Victoria

- Wayzata

Residents in those areas are at risk of sewage spills and sewer backups inside homes and businesses, and the Met Council recommends moving valuable belongings upstairs and watching basements for signs of water.

Additionally, since the ground is saturated, it may take several hours for the strain on the sewer systems to be reduced. After the rains cease, residents should continue to monitor their basements for up to 24 hours, officials say.

“This is a clear cut example of inflow and infiltration of stormwater into local and regional sewer systems, an adversary of the wastewater system” said Pickart, adding that the region needs to address the problem.

“Stormwater that flows or is directed to the wastewater system can press wastewater capacity to the limit. As a region, we need to continue to address this problem.”

MORE: How do inflow, infiltration happen?

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