Metrokin sewer pipe fixed, cleanup begins for sewage spilled into Mission Lake

The pipe leak near Mission Lake is fixed and fully operational as of Wednesday night, according to a city of Kodiak press release posted Thursday morning.

An excavator dumps gravel back into the pit on Metrokin Way, originally dug to fix leaking sewer pipes. Mission Lake can be seen in the background. (Photo by Kavitha George/KMXT)

“The leak is fixed, the pump stations are all back on-line,” Public Works Director Craig Walton said by phone. “We still have some work to do down there, we’ve gotta relay another sewer line into the area that was part of the problem. And so we’re pumping around that right now.”

He says the leak, which was discovered on May 9, ended up being a bigger issue than anticipated, with parts of a sewer transmission line and a lift station damaged. The lift station pumps sewage into the collection system and services 80% of the city’s sewer system, according to a press release put out on Wednesday.

“We had to dig down and see what the problem was, ran into other problems, and we had to order parts, because there was nothing on island,” Walton said, adding that the parts, flown up from California, reached by Wednesday.

Two homes near the leak had their water shut off and rerouted through a fire hydrant during the repair process. And even though the system is operational now, final repairs to the transmission line are still in progress. Walton hopes they’ll be done by the middle of next week, at which time they’ll get those houses back on the regular water system.

Over the course of the damage and repair process, raw, untreated sewage was discharged into Mission Lake, which according to Walton, will eventually reach the ocean. On Wednesday he said they were unsure of the ecological impacts of that, but on Thursday he said he does not expect any lasting damage to the environment.

As of Thursday afternoon, he said they are unsure of the quantity of sewage that’s ended up in the lake.

In a statement, City Manager Mike Tvenge cautioned residents against getting in contact with the area near the leak. “Due to the length of time the overflow occurred, the City recommends citizens avoid any contact with the lake and beach, as well as abstain from any recreational use of the beach. If the public comes into contact with water or soil potentially affected by the overflow, they should shower and wash clothes thoroughly as soon as possible.”

According to the Thursday press release the city will now start focusing on clean-up and monitoring any possible public health hazards. It will also notify the public when it is “safe to resume activities in the Mission Lake and Mission Beach areas.”

“We’ve got guys down there cleaning up and liming the areas where it was discharging out on us,” Walton said. “So we’re raking up and cleaning up around all them areas. Checking the lake, and we’ve been monitoring the lake with samples ever since this started. We’re just going continue to sample monitor for awhile till we know that we’re all clear.”

Under a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation, the city is required to “ensure that there is no harm to human health and the environment” as a result of the spill. According to  DEC spokesperson Laura Achee, the City of Kodiak has been collecting water samples and sampling for fecal coliform and biochemical oxygen demand. Those results have yet to be submitted to DEC, but Walton said he hoped to have them sent out by the end of Thursday.

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