OTTUMWA – Monday, John Deere’s Ottumwa Works reported to the DNR a wastewater bypass that entered Black Lake quarry, just northeast of the plant, in Ottumwa.


John Deere managers discovered the discharge Monday morning, when workers found a cross connection allowing untreated wastewater from two restrooms to enter a storm sewer, which flows into Black Lake. They immediately closed the restrooms, stopping the discharge.


For anyone ice fishing on the lake, the fish are safe to eat. Bacteria are found in the water, not in fish flesh. However, anglers should wash their hands and rinse the fish off well before cleaning them, and cook them properly. Also, anglers should avoid fishing near the open water area where the discharge entered the lake.


The bypass began in mid-December during a storm water and sanitary sewer improvement project. The amount of the bypass is unknown, but was somewhat reduced because the plant was closed for 10 days over the holidays.

The DNR is requiring water sampling where the discharge entered Black Lake and will continue to monitor the situation, and consider appropriate enforcement action.