A spokesman with the Iowa DNR says the wastewater treatment plants that were hit by flooding in northeast Iowa are working quickly to get back online. Tom McCarthy was one of several members of the DNR who were out assessing the damage and helping cities.
“For the most part, most of them are operating again. They may not be fully in operation, but at least the water is starting to go down and they are starting to look at ways to repair these systems,” McCarthy says. He has a long list facilities compiled this morning after getting inspection reports from others in the field.
“Calmar, Chester, Lawler had some issues. Spilleville, Protivin, Waucoma, Decorah/Freeport had some issues. Elma was under water, Fort Atkinson their whole lagoons were under water Interstate Power, their coal pile discharged (in Lansing), Elgin had some issues with no disinfection,” McCarthy says. The record rains came down so quickly that McCarthy says most cities weren’t able to do any sandbagging to try and protect the plants.
“Several of the cities told us that they had heard the projected crest was much lower and then hours later they re-upped that crest — and yeah there just wasn’t enough time to do anything,” according toe McCarthy.
“Fort Atkinson, their basins were damaged. It looks the liner may have been compromised as well, but we don’t know that for sure,” McCarthy says. “I know at Waucoma the UV disinfection equipment was damaged, there’s some erosion along the berms, wiring damage because of the flooding. They’ll keep busy repairing these systems throughout the fall I am sure.” The heavy rains not only cause problems for municipal waster treatment plants, but they can also cause storage lagoons to fill up rapidly at livestock operations.
“We haven’t heard any of our animal feeding operations discharging, but a lot of times these heavy rains help fill up the outside manure storage structures…so I imagine they will be looking to land-apply a little earlier than normal this fall,” McCarthy says. He says they will work with livestock producers too if they need help in handling their issues.