Tube, canoe rental companies take hit after wastewater spill in Cannon River
Some companies along the Cannon River have had fewer takers than usual this Fourth of July, saying business is down after authorities estimate a million gallons of wastewater spilled into the river on Tuesday.
Normally, this is one of the busiest weeks of the summer for companies that offer tubing and canoeing trips on the Cannon River downstream of Northfield.
But early Tuesday morning, a broken pipe at the city’s treatment plant caused flooding and forced staff to release treated and untreated wastewater. The public was advised to avoid direct contact with the river.
Ben Lacefield, co-owner of Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike Rental, said many people are concerned, but he’s still taking customers down the river if they want to go.
“A lot of people see that million gallons of treated and untreated sewage that went in to the river. But it was less than 1 percent of the overall flow of the river at that time,” he said. “So, compared to the overall size of the Cannon River, it’s not that large of an amount. And by the time it even gets to us it will be extremely diluted.”
The Cannon River flows through Lake Byllesby, and Dakota County temporarily closed Lake Byllesby Regional Park’s beach. The park’s campground and other amenities remain open.
County officials are testing water at the beach and will reopen it after at least two days of samples show the water is safe for contact, the Northfield News reported.
Ross Nelson, who owns Welch Mill Canoeing and Tubing downstream of the spill, said some customers have canceled their reservations. But Nelson noted that spill was a small percentage of the total water flowing in the river.
Nelson said Welch Mill will still rent to people who want a tube or canoe, after notifying them about the water advisory.
“We’re warning everybody about this advisory warning that they gave, letting people make their own decisions,” he said.