Progress being made to end pollution at Lee County lake - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Progress being made to end pollution at Lee County lake

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Water near boat ramp at Chatfield Lake. Water near boat ramp at Chatfield Lake.
Chatfield Lake, just north of Keokuk. Chatfield Lake, just north of Keokuk.
Iowa DNR could hand out $25,000 in fines a day if all residents don't comply. Iowa DNR could hand out $25,000 in fines a day if all residents don't comply.
Septic Tank installed at the Marten residence. Septic Tank installed at the Marten residence.
Water dripping out of other end of the system. Water dripping out of other end of the system.

There's been an effort in Lee County over the past few months to prevent raw sewage from flowing into a lake in rural Lee County.

But, there's more work that needs to be done. 

This is all in the Mooar/Powdertown Township area, just north of Keokuk. 

The state said high bacteria levels at Chatfield Lake is a major health issue and they demanded residents to put in septic tanks to stop the sewage from flowing into the water. 

The health department said some people have been following the rules while others are not far from getting papers served. 

Water dripped out of Roger Martens' new septic system, it cost him $12,000 to have someone put it in the ground. 

"We've had our water issues out here and we got that straightened away," Marten said. "It's just like anyone else's house I guess." 

He is one of two people on a street of a dozen homes that have complied.

The health department said a little more than half the residents are doing something while others are not responding, putting a potential lawsuit on their hands. 

"I continue to tell them that we have to do better at this and the environment should be a number one priority," Rosa Haukedahl said. 

At the recent county board of supervisors meeting -- Environmental Services Director Rosa Haukedahl said six properties have filed for extensions which is a step in the right direction and the DNR is happy with the progress. 

"The board of supervisors was also pleased, police as well," Haukedahl said. "We have about 18 homes remaining and we want to work with them and get to the 100 percent mark. " 

But funding is the main issue for many of these homes. Martens said his neighbors just can't afford to put a system in. 

"I feel sorry for them that it has to be that way," Marten said. "I don't know how they can decide this side here. We ain't dumping into that lake. I don't know how they can force us and get us into buying a septic tank. " 

DNR told the county that it could face fines of up to $25,000 a day if it's not complete, but the state never put in a strict deadline to have the work complete.

"At this point, they have been kept up to date and they are satisfied with the progress so far but we need to work at it," Lee County Health Department Administrator Julie Schilling said.  

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