A pump malfunction is blamed for thousands of gallons of sewage spilling into the Mississippi River. The overflow occurred Monday morning at a lift station operated by the City of Keokuk. Jim Kacer, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the pump malfunction was discovered during a routine inspection.

“There are two pumps in the lift station and the starter was burned out on one of them. On the other, the breaker had been tripped,” Kacer said. “When they discovered what was going on, they reset the breaker. That started the pump again and that stopped the overflow.”

An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of sewage was released into the Mississippi River before the repair was made. Normally, an alarm would alert operators of a pump failure.

“They aren’t sure why that alarm (failed),” Kacer said. Repairs are being made to the pump with the burned out starter. Kacer said it appears to be an unavoidable accident and it’s unlikely the city will be fined.