Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Heavy rainfall leads to bypassing of wastewater in Iowa Great Lakes area

Heavy rainfall over northwest Iowa is resulting in widespread
bypassing of untreated wastewater into Iowa’s Great Lakes.

Anywhere from three to six inches of rain deluged the area on
Thursday morning, falling over already saturated ground from
weekend storms. Since Sunday, Clay and Dickinson Counties have
reported from four to eight inches of rain with much heavier
amounts recorded over isolated areas.

“It’s a case of where there is just way too much water for the
systems to be able to handle. We don’t like to see it, but in
conditions like this, the excess water needs to be released or it
will back up into homes and businesses,” said Ken Hessenius,
supervisor of the DNR’s field office in Spencer.

Hessenius said the DNR has extensive water monitoring data that
indicates that in extremely wet conditions, the impact of bypassing
untreated wastewater on water quality is minimal.

“But we also have a lot of monitoring that shows we tend to get
higher bacterial levels after heavy rainfall just from normal
runoff during rain events,” said Hessenius.

Hessenius said swimmers and others who will be in the water over
the next couple of days in the Great Lakes area will want to be
aware of the conditions.

Very small children, people with weakened immune systems and others
who do not understand about not ingesting water should be cautious
of swimming and other on-the-water activities when bacterial levels
may be high. People with open wounds should also be cautious
because high bacterial levels can increase the chances of
infection.

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