WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Burlington Repairs Leaking Sewer Line

Burlington, IA – A broken sewer line is no longer dumping untreated material into the Mississippi River. The line is located about one mile south of Burlington's waste-water treatment plant.

Burlington City Manager Doug Worden says the river level dropped enough, September 9-11, for crews to replace the damaged portion of the sewer line. He says it took several attempts before the work was completed.

The leak was first discovered August 18. Worden says the city got a cost estimate on the project, shortly after, but could not send a crew in because of how quickly the Mississippi River rose.

Worden says the age of the sewer line led to the leak. "It is an old, metal corrugated pipe," says Worden, "I don't know why they used that for a sewer so we don't know how old it is."

Worden says that entire line will eventually be replaced, and possibly relocated, as part of Burlington's ongoing storm-and-sanitary sewer system separation. He says the project is 60% complete with the city having about 15 more years to complete it.

Early estimates were that 200-gallons of untreated wastewater were entering the river each minute. That works out to nearly 300,000 gallons/day or 2,000,000 gallons/week.

Burlington notified nearby cites, including Keokuk and Fort Madison, several weeks ago about the leak.