The City of Plattsmouth announced Friday that it was preparing to release raw sewage into the Missouri River and to shut down its wastewater treatment plant.
City officials advised residents in low-lying areas along River Road and Castaway Pointe to take immediate emergency measures to prevent sewage from backing up into their homes and other property.
The plant began taking in silt and what appeared to be river water Friday, said City Administrator Erv Portis. Officials determined that breaks probably had occurred in sewer mains that normally carry wastewater from the city to the plant.
The plant itself is not flooded. Levees built last week will remain in place to prevent flood waters from flowing into the plant, which typically handles 700,000 gallons of wastewater a day.
Releases from the plant are expected to continue indefinitely, Portis said. The broken pipe is under water, meaning crews won't be able to get to it to repair it until floodwaters recede. "That's months away," he said.
If necessary, officials said, sewage will be pumped from sanitary sewer manholes into Missouri River floodwaters.
City officials have advised the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality of the release and advised residents to avoid contact with floodwater. The U.S. Coast Guard has banned recreational boating on the Missouri River along Nebraska and Iowa.
Residents in low-lying areas should plug floor drains to prevent sewer backups, Portis said. Basement toilets also should be removed and the drains plugged with butterfly valves, which are available at plumbing supply stores.