OMAHA — Omaha's sewage treatment plant is back online after severe flooding forced public works officials to shut it down and pump raw sewage into the Missouri River for a month.
The city's Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant was knocked offline March 15, when statewide flooding forced evacuations and led to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The plant resumed full treatment last week.
Plant manager Dave Sykora said he thought it would take much longer to restore treatment at the plant.
"I thought it would take four or five months of work to get us back to where we are," he said. "It's hard to explain how bad it was."
The flooding caused $35 million in damage at the plant, inundating half of the buildings with up to 3 feet of water and leaving the area covered in human waste. Hazardous waste crews had to clean up the site before beginning repairs, and the damage forced the Omaha Public Works Department to send raw sewage to the Missouri River for 33 days.
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The longest time the plant had previously released sewage into the river was for three days in 2017.
The recovery efforts called for 300 people to work a 24/7 operation, and some public works employees didn't get a day off after the flood until mid-April, said Jim Theiler, the department's assistant director who oversees the plant.
About half of the plant is still under reconstruction, and most of its equipment is being manually operated until new cables and computers can be installed.
The department anticipates the rest of the work will take six to eight months.