03/02/2018 / By David Williams
In case you thought you were having a bad day, just be thankful that you haven’t been exposed to raw sewage. Unless you’re from Maple Lake, Minnesota, that is. In which case, you’re probably one of the many residents inconvenienced by the thousands of gallons of raw sewage that leaked onto a nearby lake after the large pipe carrying it suddenly burst. Much of it has now ended up atop currently frozen lake.
According to official reports, the pipe that burst is monitored by the city of Annandale, which is located in Wright County. Resident and Public Works Director Joe Haller said in a statement that the leak was first discovered on Tuesday afternoon, due to a coupler on the pipe that failed. Crews subsequently rushed to shut down the pipe flow and began cleanup operations by using a septic pump to catch part of the waste that leaked.
As of this time’s writing, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is investigating the incident. A spokesman from the agency said in a statement that early estimates show there could have been up to 10,000 gallons of raw sewage leaked before the leak was discovered. In a separate statement, given to the GoMN website, the agency said that between 3,000 and 5,000 gallons might have been leaked from the broken pipe.
According to one Ramsey Lake resident named Ron Edmonson, his family noticed a kind of “brown slush” just sitting on the ice on Tuesday. And then later that day, his son said that water sprayed from the side of the road as he drove past the leak.
“I had stopped there thinking I was going to take a water sample and I stuck my hand down in that water to capture it,” Edmonson explained. “Then I realized how warm it was and I could see floating toilet paper, and I thought ‘I’ve got sewage.'”
The odor coming from the lake was another indicator that Edmonson noted. “You go down there and you could smell it,” he said. “My son said drilling ice holes down there you could notice, you could smell sewer in the water.”
Edmonson also expressed worry about the potential long-term impacts of the incident on not just the residents in the area but also on the environment. He mentioned that it happened in the worst place possible out of all the places in the area, and that the sewage went straight to the lake itself. “If we start getting dead fish this spring, we’ll know where it’s coming from,” he said.
Bacteria that can be found in human waste can cause some serious illnesses. As you can imagine, the fact that thousands of gallons of raw sewage somehow ended up in a lake that is freely accessible to humans, and is used as a source of fish served up as food in the county, means that there could be some major problems caused by the incident at some point in the future.
With all of that said, the official word from the MPCA is that the spill doesn’t pose a threat to the public at all. For now, the agency is closely working with the city in order to best determine how to proceed. They’ve already collected water samples from the affected areas and will be conducting tests on them, the results of which will be delivered soon, according to Haller.
Read more about the ways in which waste materials can negatively affect you in Pollution.news.