Rock Rapids Sewer Line Break Explained

Rock Rapids, Iowa — This past week we told you that about 56,000 gallons of waste water discharged into the Rock River at Rock Rapids, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

jim hoye
Jim Hoye

We had a chance to talk with Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities General Manager Jim Hoye about the issue. He clarified the situation for us. He says that Waste Water Treatment Operator Tanner Vogl noticed there was no inflow to the Rock Rapids Waste Water Treatment Plant about 4 PM Tuesday, indicating a broken pipe or other problem.

Hoye says they found out that the problem was that sewage from most of the town of Rock Rapids hadn’t made it from one side of the Rock River to the other. Most of the city is on the west side of the river, and the Waste Water Treatment Plant is on the east side near the old Illinois Central Right of Way.

The DNR said that utility personnel had rerouted wast ewater to a holding basin used during high rainfalls. That statement was somewhat confusing as there are no holding basins on the west side of the river, and the force main under the river was broken. Hoye clarifies.

Hoye says that they made a temporary connection from the main going over the railroad trestle to the force main on the east side of the river — so instead of going under the river, all waste water is temporarily going over the river.

He says they are in the process of making permanent repairs by replacing the force main. Hoye says that the cause of the break was just old age. He says the pipe was probably about 65 years old. He says that if it had to break, it was a fairly decent time for it to happen.

Hoye says the Iowa DNR continues to monitor cleanup and repairs, but he has been told that since it was reported in a timely manner and there was no negligence involved, the DNR has told him that no fines will be levied against the Municipal Utilities or the City.

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