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Jamestown sewer running at four times normal

Groundwater infiltration into the Jamestown sanitary sewer has increased but is far below levels of 2009 flood.

JSSP Water and Lake

The Jamestown sanitary sewer system is running at about four times its normal capacity due to groundwater infiltration into the sewer pipes, according to Travis Dillman, city engineer for Interstate Engineering.

"We're not there yet," he said when asked to compare the influx of water into the sanitary sewer system the city faced during the flood of 2009. "But we're reminding everyone to keep water out of the sewer system."

During the 2009 flood, water was pumped from the sanitary sewer system directly to the river because the lift stations could not handle the volume.

The volume of infiltrated groundwater that is mixed with the normal sewage this fall has prompted officials to monitor levels at the Jamestown sewage lagoons closely.

"We have to take precautions to make sure we have enough lagoon capacity to carry us through the winter," Dillman said.

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Dillman said the diluted sewage going into the lagoons requires less treatment time before it can be discharged into the river. The city is working with officials from the North Dakota Department of Health to monitor the conditions and clear the lagoons as quickly as possible.

The levels of the lagoons are just one of the variables that comes into play when higher releases from Jamestown and Pipestem dams increase the level of the James River through Jamestown.

"It gets to be a big balancing act," Dillman said.

Reducing the strain on sanitary sewer lift stations and the lagoon system prompted the city to issue a reminder earlier this week that water from sump pump systems should be directed to the curb where it can flow into the storm sewer system rather than the sanitary sewer system.

"We have a few local lift stations where we have concerns," he said. "We're monitoring those daily."

Dillman said residents west of the James River and north of Klaus Park in northwest Jamestown were advised to plug basement floor drains because a local lift station was having problems keeping up with the volume of water.

The current combined releases of 2,400 cubic feet per second from Jamestown and Pipestem dams has remained steady since Saturday. There are no plans to increase the releases further.

"We've leveled off," Dillman said.

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The next change comes when releases are decreased in anticipation of the reservoirs and river freezing over for the winter. Officials are monitoring water temperature readings to try to gauge when that freeze could occur.

Once ice has formed, the combined releases will continue at 800 cfs until the reservoir levels are dropped to normal winter levels. This will help decrease the amount of water infiltrating into the sewer system.

"When the river goes down, the situation will improve," Dillman said. "As things move into winter, things will get better."

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