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


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.

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