In November and December, the city of Muscatine excavated an area of the Southend where a sewer leak was discovered at the intersection of Day, Birch and Nebraska streets.


MUSCATINE — After more than three months, a sewer leak has been fixed in Muscatine's Southend, ending a period of wastewater being discharged into the Mississippi River.

In late October, the city's Public Works Department discovered a leak on the 30-inch force main sewer, between the Musser Park Lift Station and the Water Pollution Control Plant. Crews began excavating and working at the area, where the city discovered a four-foot long crack in the bottom of the force main at the intersection of Day, Birch and Nebraska streets.

While the force main was out of service, the city was bypassing overflow from the Papoose Lift Station to the Mississippi River. Water Pollution Control Plant Director Jon Koch estimated around three million gallons was being discharged into the river each day, according to city documents.

That was about 2,000 gallons of untreated wastewater being discharged into the river each minute, but Koch said compared to the Mississippi flowing downstream at approximately 45 million gallons per minute, the leak did not make much of an impact on the river.

"We are adding a minuscule amount into the river," Koch said in December. "By the time (the wastewater) gets downriver, it's so diluted, it won't affect anyone downstream."

The city decided, however, to close the old boat landing in Riverside Park until the area downstream from the Papoose Creek Lift Station meets state water quality standards.

Public Works Director Brian Stineman presented the Muscatine City Council with options for fixing the line, estimating it would cost up to $750,000. City Administrator Gregg Mandsager said the reserve fund has around $1.1 million.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources approved a plan for the city to place a smaller pipe into the existing 30-inch line, according to city officials. Stineman said the current line is typically running at full capacity, and reducing the flow to a 26-inch pipe will limit the capacity.

When it rains, Koch said there are often sewer overflows at the Papoose Lift Station, and he expects overflows to happen more often with the smaller line.

On Monday, the city's communication manager Kevin Jenison said the Papoose Lift Station is back online now that the sewer leak is fixed. He said as of Monday afternoon, the force main had been completed, the line tested and put back into service.

"The flow from all city stations were put in auto-run mode at 3:25 p.m. and are running normally," Koch said in a news release.

Now that the line is fixed, the city will begin planning to place a new 30-inch force main from Musser Park to the Water Pollution Control Plant.

The current line, which dates back to the 1960s and is the oldest section remaining in Muscatine's system, according to Stineman, will be kept in place and used as needed. Stineman said in a news release the 26-inch slip line would remain in service during high flow events and emergency repairs.

Building the new line will involve working across multiple streets and under several railroad crossings. Construction on a new 30-inch line could begin in the next three years, according to city documents.