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Heavy rainfall leads to multiple wastewater treatment bypasses, public advised to avoid floodwaters

  • 5/22/2024 12:51:00 PM
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DES MOINES - Following days of heavy rainfall, flash flooding and Tuesday’s severe storms, multiple Iowa wastewater treatment plants have reported discharging untreated or partially treated wastewater. 

These discharges can result from heavy precipitation, power outages and storm damage, among other things.

Since April 1, the Iowa DNR has received reports of 131 discharges at wastewater treatment facilities due to heavy precipitation, with 44 of those being reported in the last five days. Heavy rain can overload wastewater collection systems, which are underground sewer pipes that carry sewage to a treatment plant. Aging or poorly maintained sanitary sewer systems are particularly vulnerable to influxes of storm water. 

With sewage pipes overwhelmed, excess water has nowhere to go, and can back up into basements through floor drains. Bypassing can lower the water level in the collection system, keeping sewage from backing up into basements, which could present health risks.

DNR staff continue to monitor these situations and will provide assistance to impacted communities. 

It is highly recommended people and pets avoid these areas and stay out of flooded and elevated waterways due to safety concerns. 

For more information on wastewater discharges and flooding updates, contact your local DNR Environmental Field office. You can find the office for your region at: