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Northfield sewage leak causes downstream warning in Cannon River

NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- Goodhue County has temporarily closed the Lake Byllesby beach until further notice following a discharge of raw and treated sewage into the Cannon River Tuesday, July 3, upstream in Northfield.

Northfield officials are also advising no contact with the river downstream of the city through 6 a.m. Friday, July 6.

The beach closure followed Northfield's announcement that its wastewater treatment facility discharged up to 1 million gallons of sewage into the Cannon River from 1-4 a.m. Tuesday. The Cannon River flows into Byllesby Reservoir, which widens into a "lake" because of the Byllesby hydro-electric dam.

The public should not have direct contact with the water, Goodhue County officials said in a news release. Boating and fishing are permitted. Anyone who has contact with water while launching boats or fishing should wash with soap and clean water.

At 8 p.m. Monday, staff at the wastewater facility responded to an alarm. They determined a PVC pipe had broken. Northfield Public Works Director David Bennett said the discharge of approximately 1 million gallons of treated and untreated wastewater that entered the Cannon River  is less than 1 percent of the river's total flow during that 1-4 a.m. time frame.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was alerted.