Hospital sewage flows into river from damaged pipe

By: - June 21, 2022 3:13 pm

Wastewater from St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll flowed into the Middle Raccoon River from a broken sewer pipe this week. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Department of Natural Resources)

A sewer line near a western Iowa hospital leaked an undetermined amount of sewage into the ground and the nearby Middle Raccoon River, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Workers who were installing an underground electrical line damaged the sewer line, the DNR reported. The leak was first noticed about 6 a.m. Monday, when wastewater was seeping from the base of a retaining wall near St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll, said Dan Olson, a senior environmental specialist for the DNR.

About 8 a.m., hospital staff noticed the water overflowing from a manhole cover near one of the hospital’s entrances.

Olson said the electrical workers likely bored through the six-inch sewer pipe about a week ago, which caused sewage to leak into the ground. It also resulted in the line becoming blocked by sediment, and the sewage slowly filled the pipe and the nearby manhole until it overflowed from there.

The sewage water from the manhole and the retaining wall flowed into storm sewers and into the river for several hours, but the environmental effects are suspected to be limited.

“In terms of wastewater bypasses, it was a relatively small one,” Olson said.

Another DNR officer took samples of the river — the tests of which are not yet complete — but there were no obvious signs of significant contamination, he said.

Workers excavated the area near the pipe damage on Monday and fixed it.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.

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