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Wastewater leak releases 2m gallons of sewage into major US waterway

A ruptured wastewater pipe in Michigan, US, has released nearly 2 million gallons of sewage into Grand River, which runs into Lake Michigan.

According to the MLive news site, the 45-year-old heavy duty ductile iron pipe was repaired with a stainless steel clamp/sleeve with a rubber gasket on 28 February, but not before the massive amount of sewage has already escaped.

The Ottawa Country Department of Public Health has issued a no body contact advisory for parts of the Grand River, including the channel where the river water meets Lake Michigan.

The cause of the leak has not yet been determined, but the soil around the pipe is being tested to determine whether it is corrosive to ductile iron and additional methods, including the use of leak detection technology to review the entire length of the pipe, are being evaluated.

Estimated repair costs for the damaged pipe – located in a section about 300 metres off the Spring Lake Township shore on Sunday, 26 February – are between $50,000 and $90,000 (€47,500-85,500).

The long-term fix, which includes building a new force main pipe under the Grand River, would be a much more expensive process at $5 million, but the three communities using the sewage pipe have begun to save money for the replacement.

The kilometre-long pipe that has been designed specifically for crossing rivers, an engineering firm told MLive, is buried at a depth of one metre below the river bottom and carries on average 1.25 million gallons of wastewater per day.

The leak of sewage into the Grand River was initially reported Sunday afternoon by a resident seeing water bubbling up and breaking the water surface in the middle of the river.

This article was written by Ilari Kauppila, editor at Fluid Handling International