By Brenda Erdahl
An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of sewage leaked out of a broken pipe last week just south of Maple Lake into nearby Ramsey Lake, and residents are concerned about the consequences.
Around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, Maple Lake Public Works Director Jerry Sawatzke was flagged down by Ramsey Lake property owner Ron Edmonson who reported a strong smell of sewage and a suspicious looking liquid flowing from a creek that normally carries storm water runoff into the lake.
A few minutes later Sawatzke arrived at the lift station just south of the Maple Lake Maintenance Sheds on Highway 7 to discover sewage boiling out of the ground, running down the ditch, and into the creek.
Sawatzke diverted the flow to the city’s EQ Basin to stop the leak and called Joe Haller, the Annandale- Maple Lake-Howard Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant operator. It was soon discovered a broken coupler on a city sewage pipe that flows to the treatment plant was the culprit.
By Wednesday morning, Feb. 7, crews had fixed the problem and used a septic pump to clean up part of the waste that escaped. The incident was reported to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency who will advise local agencies on cleanup.
“This is my first experience with sewage leaking into a lake,” said Haller who has been the plant operator for more than nine years. “It’s never happened here, but it does happen in the state and we are relying on their (MPCA’s) guidance.”
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