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NORA SPRINGS | The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has fined the city of Nora Springs $6,000 for violating effluent limits set in its wastewater permit.

The DNR also is telling city officials they need to build a new wastewater plant by October 2020, according to Nora Springs City Administrator Deb Gaul. 

Gaul said the city has been trying to fix its ongoing problems with the wastewater plant and recently hired a contractor to make improvements. 

City officials are working with the DNR to see if the fine can be reduced, Gaul said, adding the request to build a new plant is not a total surprise. 

"We knew it was coming," she said.

Gaul noted the city of Hampton recently spent $7 million for a new wastewater plant. However, Gaul said she didn't know if Nora Springs would need to spend that much since it is a much smaller city than Hampton. 

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The DNR violations go back to 2010, according to the order the agency sent to the city outlining the violations and stating the fine.

The order states that during an inspection in November 2010, the DNR observed a sewage fungus -- indicative of inadequately treated wastewater -- located below the plant's discharge pipe in the Shell Rock River. 

The city also had effluent violations between January and June 2012, according to the letter.

in November of that year the city submitted results of its ammonia monitoring study, which demonstrated the city could meet the ammonia limits in its waste water permit. However, there were numerous ammonia effluent violations after that, with the most recent violation occurring this September, according to the DNR.

The city acknowledged to the DNR in April 2014 that the waste water plant was out of date and was not designed to meet the requirements of the city's current waste water permit. City officials stated they were exploring various funding options so they could move forward with improvements.

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