City discovers one reason why Hennepin stinks

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March 8, 2004 // UPDATED 9:27 am - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

The city had been tipped off to an "improper discharge of sanitary sewage" into a storm sewer tunnel under Hennepin, said Sara Dietrich, a city spokesperson.

"As is typical in these situations, Public Works and Regulatory Services Division work together to identify the source of the discharge and work with property owners to remedy the problem," Dietrich said. "Usually, the sources are leaks in the sanitary systems that enter the storm system or improper connections to the storm system."

The odorous culprit in this case?

Dietrich said crews discovered an improper "sanitary connection" to the storm tunnel made during a recent Hennepin-area building renovation.

"City staff were doing a variety of investigations at the site, including records review, visual inspections and dye testing -- inserting dyes into the system to see where it comes out -- to identify the source," she said. "City staff is confident that they have found the source of the sewage discharge and are working with the building owner to rework their sanitary drainage."

The sewer stench in front of the old Skyway Theater is not the only smelly spot on Hennepin Avenue. The city has also received complaints about odors along Hennepin near 4th Street. A couple of years ago, city crews discovered a private sanitary sewer line unloading raw sewage into the storm tunnel.

Despite fixing the line and efforts to scoop out the sludge, the musty funk sometimes lingers.

-- Sarah McKenzie