Skip to main content

One flooded MN town dumps sewage into lake; another watches its dam

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Floodwaters in northeastern Minnesota have one town dumping untreated wastewater into a nearby lake and river, while another keeps a nervous eye on its dam with residents on alert to evacuate quickly.

Moose Lake's treatment plant overwhelmed

Floodwaters have overwhelmed the treatment plant in Moose Lake, which is dumping wastewater into Moose Horn Lake and the Moosehead River at the rate of 450 gallons per minute, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) reports.

The MPCA says discharging the untreated water prevents sewage from backing up into residents' homes.

The agency says its Duluth office has set up a command center in Moose Lake to monitor the situation and assist Pine County and the city of Moose Lake.

They say staff are monitoring the amount of water coming into the plant and once it is back within the plant's capacity they will return to treating all of the wastewater.

The MPCA says the plant operator reported at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday that one of its stations had started releasing untreated water into Moose Horn Lake. At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday a second station began dumping wastewater into the Moosehead River, as well.

The agency says municipal wastewater is typically 97 percent water.

Voluntary evacuation in Willow River

A voluntary evacuation is in effect in Willow River, Minnesota, as flooding on the town's namesake river could cause a nearby dam to burst.

The city in Pine County, about 100 miles north of the Twin Cities, has sent notes to some of its 400 or so residents urging them to be prepared to evacuate. The rising levels of the Willow River and reservoir is putting the dam at the reservoir entrance in jeopardy.

Mike Link posted pictures on Facebook Tuesday showing the condition of the river as it approaches the dam.

The Pine County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook that the dam, which has been surveyed by an Army Corps. of Engineers, is still holding but water is flowing over the top, such is the height of the river.

A spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety told BringMeTheNews that the Willow River is "very high" before adding: "We are in touch with the country emergency manager, but they remain the lead of the incident in their county and have not requested assistance from the state."

The Willow River Reservoir is linked by the small Willow River to the Kettle River, which according to the National Weather Service has risen by around 12 feet in the past three days.

It currently stands at 17.73 feet deep at nearby Sandstone, just half a foot below its record level.

Properties in the area have already been impacted by flooding this week, and it could get worse if the dam bursts.

Parts of southern Minnesota are seeing more flooding on Wednesday after another series of severe storms rolled through the region.

There are also problems in Kanabec County, near to Pine County, where floodwater is rising at an alarming rate.

Next Up

Brandon Gardas

St. Michael standoff suspect charged, bail set at $10 million

A judge on Monday set the high bail due to "very significant concerns of public safety" regarding Brandon Gardas.


Minnesota's premier trauma center housed at HCMC

The Minneapolis center is nationally recognized in pediatric trauma

Crisp & Green

Crisp & Green opening 13th store in Twin Cities in July

The fast-casual salad and grains restaurant has exploded onto the food scene.

FLickr - Target Field 2019 - mark grabe

Twins to host post-game concert with country star at Target Field

Country singer Cole Swindell is expected to perform for up to 75 minutes after the conclusion of the Blue Jays-Twins contest.


Canton Restaurant closes after nearly 40 years in Burnsville

It's the end of an era in the Twin Cities restaurant world.

Screen Shot 2022-06-27 at 12.47.20 PM

Luck strikes in Minnesota: lottery winners in Duluth, Grand Marais

The North Shore just so happened to be a lucky place to be this past weekend.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, June 27

BA.5 is expected to become the dominant subvariant in Minnesota.

police lights squad car

60-year-old woman arrested after firing shots inside Spicer home

SWAT evacuated nearby residents during the incident.

Florida Georgia Line

Florida Georgia Line booked to play at the Minnesota State Fair

The band is the second country music act to be booked this year.


First case of monkeypox confirmed in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health says the risk to the public is "considered low" at this time.


ice fishing close unsplash

'It's disgusting': Anglers dumping sewage on to popular ice fishing lake

A local CO told Bring Me The News it's people in newer, RV-style wheel houses.