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Broken sewer pump closes library

A sign on the front of the Nobles County Library indicates it was closed on Wednesday due to maintenance issues. (Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- A broken sewer pump caused the Nobles County Library to close Wednesday. It was closed for one day as the library resumed normal hours Thursday.

An ejector pump that sends sewage from the basement into the city's main sewer system was to blame for the closure of the library, as well as the Nobles County Art Center and Historical Society. The after-school programs were cancelled as well.

"Maintenance said it's a common thing to happen, just like an overgrown sump pump," Library Director Julie Wellnitz said. "It's really common, but you try to get the best out of a pump like that. You never really know when it's going to go. It just wears out just like any other pump."

The pump, which was approximately 15 years old, stopped working early Wednesday morning. Since the sewage wasn't able to be ejected, the building filled with sewer gas, which is considered a health hazard, according to Nobles County Administrator Vijay Sethi.

"When the girls walked in at 8, they smelled it," Wellnitz said. "It started really getting smelly around 9. Rich Linsmeier, the maintenance guy from the county, came and then also the county administrator came. Because I'm out of town, the staff needed somebody to recommend whether they should close or not. The administrator called me and asked me what my recommendation was and I said to get everybody out of there, I don't want people getting sick."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the pump was being replaced by Worthington Plumbing and Heating.

"The smell is pretty well contained and they are using germicidal treatments around the area," Wellnitz said.

The plan was for the staff to return Wednesday night to air out the building with fans and open windows.

"Like Rich said, it happened starting this morning and throughout the day rather than at midnight and then continuing through the morning," Wellnitz said. "He feels like it was fortunate that people were there to smell it and then get him in and take care of it. Otherwise, it could have really been a mess."

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.