County park closed after 5,000 gallons of sewage spills into lake


A lake in southeast Minnesota is closed until further notice after a septic system failure sent more than 5,000 gallons of sewage into the water.

The Steele County Sheriff's Office said on its Facebook page it was alerted to the problem at Beaver Lake near Ellendale, south of Owatonna, on Saturday. The Minnesota DNR and Pollution Control Agency (PCA) were notified immediately.

Saying the problem was believed to have been caused by a "septic system fail," attempts to contain the pollution were unsuccessful, as more than 5,000 gallons of sewage entered the lake.

By Sunday afternoon, some 3,500 gallons of lake water and contamination had been removed, and some of it was sent for testing to find out what kind of bacteria strains are present.

The entire Beaver Lake County Park has been closed until further notice and homeowners around the lake have been contacted, and are warned no person or animal should enter the water.

Visitor Todd Olson spoke with ABC 6, and said that by Sunday, the lake smelled like a septic tank.

"We did pick up some of the smell when we were walking around parts of the lake and so we knew something was a little off," Olson, visiting from California for a family reunion, told the TV station.

For Olson and his family, the water activities have been put on hold for the rest of their trip.

The PCA has a response team that is working "round the clock" to remove the pollution, the sheriff's office says.

The 17.2-acre county park has a swimming beach, fishing pier, volleyball courts and park area, according to its website.

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