City officials in Mound are upset that they were forced to release sewage into three nearby lakes after rain flooded the city's sewer lines, and they blame the Metropolitan Council for ignoring requests to upgrade the lines.
The city of Mound had to release sewage into the stormwater sewer system on Sunday to prevent wastewater from backing up into the basements of about 1,000 homes.
"This is a method that is used when people's homes, health and safety are at risk," Kandis Hanson, Mound City Manager, told KARE 11. "The environment is important too, but we ask that people put it in perspective and see that people can't live in their homes once they have been deluged with sewage."
The city returned to regular treatment operations on Monday, but 20 or so homes were contaminated, Hanson told the Star Tribune. Some of the residents who aren't able to live in their homes until the houses are cleaned up say the city of Mound didn't give them any warning that there could be problems, and the city owes them an explanation, KARE 11 reports.
Mound Mayor Mark Hanus told KSTP that the whole mess "did not have to happen."
He said cities across the metro, including Mound, use sewer lines operated by the Metropolitan Council – the regional policy-making body and planning agency for the Twin Cities – but he said those lines are filled to capacity and the council has ignored repeated requests to upgrade the lines.
Minnesota Sen. Dave Osmek, R-Mound, agreed with Hanus. He told KSTP he plans to meet with Met Council officials "because they have promised us upgraded sewer lines for 10 years and have not done it."
In a statement, The Met Council said it has made improvements to the lines and more are planned for the future, but those improvements "would not have prevented this spill because it resulted from extremely excessive amounts of rainwater seeping or flowing into the sewers," KSTP notes.
The Met Council added that Mound and other communities are struggling to deal with excessive ground and storm water entering sewer systems, and the council is working with cities to reduce the amount of clean water that enters sewers, "rather than building large and far more costly amounts of additional capacity to handle the occasional extreme rainfalls," KSTP reports.
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Officials have said that Mound's untreated wastewater will likely flow into Lake Minnetonka, Lake Langdon and Dutch Lake, which has officials telling water sport enthusiasts to avoid going in the lakes, at least temporarily. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) said in a news release that it will be testing the lakes for E. coli levels for the next two weeks until it's safe enough to swim.
For a complete list of treatment plants that were forced to release wastewater, click here.