Pine Island sees flooding as rainy spring begins

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(ABC 6 News) – People in Pine Island are dealing with flooding as rainy weather dominates the forecast – bringing back long-held concerns about the aging wastewater treatment plant overflowing.

“Many residents are not happy with this situation,” said Pine Island resident Adam Distad.

So far the community is dealing with localized flooding that’s long plagued the city because of its spot near the Zumbro River.

Mayor of Pine Island David Friese says this happens every spring, and the water itself doesn’t come from the nearby wastewater treatment plant.

“That is not a factor that we’re having to worry about right now,” Friese explained.

The city’s wastewater treatment plant is around 70 years old and is also impacted by flooding. This has got people concerned that untreated water from the plant is leaking into the river.

In 2019 the city, with permission from the state, pumped untreated water from the plant directly into the river. The plant’s crumbling infrastructure couldn’t handle heavy rains.

People weren’t happy about it. And now in 2023 are concerned about contaminating the river again.

“They’re spilling water – even though they say it’s treated – they’re still spilling wastewater into the Zumbro. This plant needs to be updated,” Distad claimed.

But Friese says since 2019, no untreated water has ever gone into the river. As far as the flooding goes – Friese says it just comes with the territory. However, the city says it does have sandbags on standby, just in case flooding impacts homes or businesses.

“The city can’t always be there to stop that flooding. And that’s just the risk we have living along the river like this,” Mayor Friese said.

Neighbors, however, ask for more accountability.

“He’s dragging his feet on a lot of these issues. He’s not getting flood control measures out here. I just think something needs to be done,” said Distad.