News Briefs: Fire at Minnesota Plant Causes 'Catastrophic Damage'

In this week's water and wastewater news, a Minnesota city declares a state of emergency after a treatment plant fire; and the failure of a membrane system in Iowa leaves customers from nine counties boiling water

A fire inside the biosolids building of a wastewater treatment plant in Northfield, Minnesota, resulted in catastrophic damage, according to the city’s public works director.

He told Northfield News normal operations could take as long as a year to resume, and that repairs could be in the $5 million range.

In the meantime, the city is trucking its solid waste to neighboring communities for processing, which could cost as much as $1 million.

While insurance should cover most of the repair work, the city’s liability in the matter hasn’t been determined yet and investigation into the fire is ongoing. The city declared a state of emergency to get work underway faster.

After the recent failure of a membrane filtration system at the Twelve Mile Water Plant in Creston, Iowa, customers in nine different counties found themselves under a boil advisory. Creston Water Works also supplies water regionally to customers in the Southern Iowa Rural Water Association.

After 11 days, the advisory was lifted for the city of Creston. Meanwhile, water crews have been working 12- and 18-hour shifts to address the problem.

“The membranes are about $1 million,” a utility spokesperson told the Des Moines Register. “It’s not something you can just keep on a shelf.”

The city of Frederick, Maryland, is being sued by Potomac Riverkeeper Network, an environmental group that claims the city is repeatedly violating the Clean Water Act.

The network filed a lawsuit alleging the city is exceeding its annual limits for nitrogen and neglecting necessary upgrades.

Meanwhile, the city’s public works director says the city is making progress on the mandated upgrades.


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