DNR fines Mason City Community School District $8000 for illegal construction discharges into Winnebago River

MASON CITY — The Mason City Community School District has been fined $8000 by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for illegal discharges into the Winnebago River as part of the high school campus fieldhouse and natatorium construction project.

According to an administrative consent order, the DNR says they received a complaint on November 19th of last year alleging a dark brown substance was flowing from a storm drain outfall into the Winnebago River east of the high school. Following the receipt of this complaint, the City of Mason City also called the DNR and stated it had received several calls regarding the same complaint. A city employee informed the DNR that they could observe the discharge from Asbury Park on the opposite side of the river.

The DNR took lab and field samples shortly after at the complaint site as well as upstream and downstream, with sediment-laden stormwater being mixed with normal water being observed downstream, but clear water free of sediment being observed upstream.

The DNR later met with Henkel Construction site superintendent Landon Perkins, who stated that while excavating the swimming pool on November 18th, a layer of blue clay had been encountered, with the excavation site found to be partially filled with water the next morning, so they began to dewater it. Perkins told the DNR that he was aware that the sediment-laden stormwater was flowing into the river and caused discoloration, but he was not aware that it was problematic.

The DNR instructed him to dispose of the water from the excavation dewatering in a different manner prior to conducting any future pumping and recommended various methods to legally dispose of such water. The DNR made follow-up visits to the site on November 22nd and December 2nd, where they observed proper procedures taking place.

The DNR issued a notice of violation on December 13th. In a consent order signed on August 4th, the school district agreed to cease all illegal discharges and pay an administrative penalty of $8000.

You can see the full text of the consent order by clicking here