The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Tuesday announced fines against the city of Two Harbors for spilling nearly 150,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into Lake Superior during incidents last August and January.
The two unauthorized discharges were caused by power outages and failed alarm systems. MPCA Water Quality Specialist John Thomas said the sewage that escaped was undiluted and closed beaches in August.
"It really needs to be paid attention to, exactly how staff get notified and respond in a timely manner in order to eliminate or substantially reduce the size of any overflow that might happen," Thomas said.
In addition to a $19,000 fine, the city also has to install sand filters at its treatment plant to remove mercury from its effluent, something Thomas said will cost several million dollars.
Thomas said typically overflows occur during snowmelt or heavy rain storms.
"But that's a different kind of unauthorized release than this one. This is untreated wastewater, and in these cases it was not significantly diluted with storm water," Thomas said.