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Terrain Delays Keokuk Sewer Repairs

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Keokuk says the location of a sewer leak slowed repairs, allowing more pollution into nearby waterways.

Public Works Director Mark Bousselot says a sewer line near Carbide Lane became plugged on Saturday, April 19.

"The manhole had blown off the structure because there was a blockage in the line.  Basically, all of the wastewater was leaving the sewer system and discharging into the nearby Soap Creek."

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the untreated sewage was entering the creek at a rate of about 20 gallons/minute, or nearly 30,000 gallons per day.

Bousselot says crews were finally able to clear the blockage on Tuesday, April 22 using a machine known as a jetter.

"It is a pressurized hose that runs up the sewer from the downstream end.  It blows pressurized water to remove the obstruction."

Bousselot says it took much longer than normal because the area is remote.

“It is heavily wooded, in the timber, off the beaten track.  It’s hard getting our equipment too it.  We tried getting our trucks to it and pulling hose, but we just didn’t have the length on our equipment.”

Soap Creek flows into the Mississippi River.

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Water samples are being tested.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is recommending people avoid Soap Creek for several days.

Bousselot says the line is actually in pretty good shape, beyond the blockage.

He says this could lead Keokuk to purchase equipment that could more easily navigate such difficult terrain.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.