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Rains overwhelm Granite Falls sewer system

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GRANITE FALLS -- Heavy rains Thursday overwhelmed the sanitary sewer system in Granite Falls, causing sewage to back up into the basements of as many as 60 homes.

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Rainfall amounts in the city totaled between 5½ to 6 inches. The rain fell at a rate greater than 3 inches an hour.

City Manager Bill Lavin was among those who spent a sleepless night cleaning up as the sanitary sewer system backed up into the basement of his home. He watched as the waters bubbled up from the basement floor drain after a telephone call from a neighbor woke him up and alerted him to the problem.

He said Friday that city crews brought out portable pumps to relieve the pressure on the sewer system at locations throughout the community.

A greater number of backed-up basements were in areas farthest from the wastewater treatment plant, according to Lavin.

The gush of water forced the city's wastewater treatment plant to bypass 1.1 million gallons of untreated effluent during the previous 24-hour period. The amount of water reaching the plant exceeded its treatment capacity, he said.

The pumps set up by city workers were keeping ahead of the water flow and water levels in the backed-up basements were receding.

Scott Rasmussen, an insurance agent in the community, said he received calls from more than 50 policyholders by mid-morning Friday reporting sewage back-ups in their basements.

He was also among those who coped with the problem. He awoke shortly after midnight to find water in his basement, and grabbed the chest waders he had purchased during the 1997 flood to reach a portable pump in his basement and get it working. His basement was among many that saw as much as 2 feet of back-up, he said.

"We've been through it before,'' he said in reference to previous flooding in the community. "We'll survive.''

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Tom Cherveny
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
(320) 214-4335
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