Heavy rain is forcing the wastewater treatment plants in the northern Iowa. Environmental specialist Brian Whiting in the DNR’s Spencer field office explains there’s little sanitation officials can do to hold back the effects of days of heavy rain. There’s so much water coming, collection systems can’t process and direct it all to the wastewater treatment plant, so some runs off into receiving areas and rivers. Whiting says a spill of sewage would be bad news for waterways in dry or even normal weather, but all the drenching rains change that somewhat. With the amount of rain northwest Iowa’s the last week, there’s a lot of water to dilute the “bypasses” of raw sewage. Ammonia’s hard on fish but it’s diluted so much by all the rainwater, it’s not a factor. Whiting says it’s likely to be several days before some small communities regain control of sewage spills into creeks and rivers. In the meantime he says it would be wise for local residents not to take drinking water from the rivers affected, or swim or boat there…but water’s so high he says they’re not likely to try that. Aurelia, Alta, Cherokee, Galva, Holstein, Rockwell City, Storm Lake, Strawberry Point, Boyden, Albert City and Lytton all have bypassed or are bypassing sewage into waterways due to the heavy rain.
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