Heavy rainfall causes sewage to overflow into Willamette River - KPTV - FOX 12

Heavy rainfall causes sewage to overflow into Willamette River

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The public should avoid contact with the Willamette River water for the next 48 hours due to sewer overflow caused by today's heavy rainstorm.

The areas of the Willamette River to avoid are south of the Sellwood Bridge down to where the Willamette meets the Columbia River near Kelley Point Park.

For health reasons, the public should avoid any recreational activities during which water could be swallowed, such as swimming or jet skiing. Anyone who fishes in the next 48 hours should wash their hands after any contact with the river water, and make sure if they plan on eating the fish to thoroughly cook the fish to kill any bacteria.

Portland's combined sewer system carries sewage and storm water runoff in the same pipes. During heavy rainstorms, like today, increased storm water runoff can cause combined sewers to overflow.

In December 2011, a 20-year program was completed to improve the sewer system and reduce Willamette River overflow. Since then, combined sewer overflows went from an average of 50 per year to no more than four per winter and one every third summer.

Anyone can check the status of current combined sewer overflow advisories at www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/overflow or call the River Alert hotline at (503) 823-2479.

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