Category Archives: Spills

Septic leaks and Sewer Spills

Update on Spill, Algae and Fish Kill

We spent the better part of the day trying to determine what happened this weekend as it relates to a sewer spill as well at the current condition of the water.  During the day calls were made to the Devils Lake Water Improvement District, the City of Lincoln City, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Health Department, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The official answer came down about 4:45 pm when I received call from the City of Lincoln City.  The referred me to the article posted on the News Guard website (read article here) stating that it represented the facts related to the matter.  I would encourage you to read the article in its entirety.

Here are the key elements of the article. The City of Lincoln City’s Public Works Department reported that on Saturday, April 5 at 4 a.m. a sewage pump station overflow in the 2600 block of Lake Drive at Devils Lake resulted in a minor sewage spill that did not reach the lake.

According to Lincoln City Engineer Stephanie Reid about 65 gallons of untreated sewage overflowed and was contained on the lawn area, she said that no sewage made it to the lake.

The spill was caused by a grease blockage which allowed the sewage to spill onto the ground. Crews spread lime at the spill site to disinfect the area.

Devils Lake Water Improvement District Lake manager Paul Robertson said he believes the discoloration of the lake is actually more blue-green algae (see latest images from Thompson Creek canal). 5345b5687d063.imageHe stated in an email that “the multi-colored scums (grey, bluish-green, green, and even white) which are consistent with types of Blue-green algae blooms. I have attached a photo from 1994 when we had a similar bloom which displayed many of the same colors we have seen in the last few days.”  He did reference the time of year or quantity of these unusual algae.

Finally, during the day today some 20 plus fish were found dead in the swim area at Regatta Park.  (see video  from the News Guard) At this moment we have not heard of others areas on the lake that have experience.  Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife arrived in the afternoon to observe and sample the water and extract the fish.  Nobody has forwarded a theory as to why this fish kill occurred.  We hope to learn the results of post mortem testing the will be perform by ODFW. We could find no historic reference to fish kill offs on Devils Lake.

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Pump Station Failure Leaks Sewage Into Lake

We have received several reports of  a sewage discharge into Devils Lake which has people who live nearby upset. Neighbors near the City pump station located at 2660 NE Lake Drive say a overflow pipe discharged raw sewage over the ground and into the lake.  Images shared with us today show an oily bluish film on the surface of the lake.  The film has been carried by wind to other areas of the lake.  Based on the existence of the yellow caution tape around the discharge pipe we assume the City is aware of the spill but have not been able to obtain additional information.

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We are asking for a detailed explanation of the following items:

  • Reason for the failure
  • Quantity in gallons of the spill
  • Length of the occurrence:
  • Time frame for repair
  • Time frame and plan for cleanup and responsible entity
  • Reason that notification of a water quality event was not noticed to the public

We have sent this announcement to you immediately out of an abundance of caution.  We will post updates on this situation on the website as soon as we learn additional information. Since there are obvious signs of the spill as shown in the above images and since there has been no public notice we thought we share these general guidelines for sewage spills.

Raw sewage contains biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that can cause serious illness and even death. There is also a risk from contamination with unknown chemicals such as solvents, carcinogens, and pesticides.  Always assume that overflow water is contaminated with sewage.

The risk to health depends on the microbes present, duration of exposure and method of exposure. Microbes in raw sewage can enter the body via the nose, mouth, open wounds or by inhalation of aerosols or dusts. The most common modes of infection are through drinking contaminated water or hand to mouth transmission. Skin contact alone does not pose a health threat unless you have an open wound.

The survival of pathogens depends on a number of factors: location, type of surface contaminated, whether disinfectants are used and environmental conditions. UV radiation reduces the survival rate of pathogens.

Mild temperatures and higher humidity increase survival times. The risk of exposure when handling sewage can be reduced significantly by effective and immediate clean-up and by taking appropriate safety precautions.

For a detailed description of what to do when a sewage spill occurs download this Sewage Spill Fact Sheet.

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Grease blockage caused sewage spill

By Patrick Alexander
The News Guard
March 17, 2010

Lincoln City’s grease problem came to head Wednesday. March 10, when a. blocked sewer line led to the discharge of 50,000 gallons of sewage onto City-owned woodland just south of Devils Lake. (See Spill Report to DEQ)

City workers discovered the spill eight days after someone passing the wooded area south of the SE 3rd Street reported a foul odor.

Lila Bradley, the City’s public works director, said the spill was caused by a grease blockage in a sewer line about a mile south, at S.E. 19th Street, and that the backed-up sewage had diverted into a abandoned line that crosses the woodland.

“If it had stayed in the area of the blockage, we would have found it much faster.” she said.  “It was an investigative process to find it. Continue reading

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