Sewage spills into Escanaba River

Verso crews to replace ruptured main; spill estimated at 12,000 gallons

ESCANABA — The Verso Escanaba Mill is replacing a sanitary sewer force main that ruptured last week, spilling water containing fecal matter into the Escanaba River.

According to Verso, on Thursday, July 4, a water line leak was detected at the mill. Water was bubbling up through the road and was draining into a nearby storm sewer and into the Escanaba River. A visual examination of the leak and preliminary testing suggested the water was from a fire water line, which would have contained clean water.

Monday, it was discovered a sanitary sewer force main is also buried in that area. As a precautionary measure, the mill installed a berm to completely divert the water flow away from the river and to the mill’s sanitary wastewater treatment plant.

After the leaking water line was excavated later in the day Monday, it was confirmed to be the sanitary sewer force main. Water samples were collected and tested.

The tests showed the samples were relatively low in total suspended solids. However, the samples collected tested positive for fecal coliforms.

It is estimated approximately 12,000 gallons of water entered the river over the four day period before the leak was diverted.

The leak was reported to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the Public Health Department was required. According to Verso, the excavated water line will be repaired as quickly as possible.