People advised to avoid Willamette River due to sewer system ove - KPTV - FOX 12

People advised to avoid Willamette River due to sewer system overflow

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Willamette River, file image Willamette River, file image
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Portland's combined sewer system overflowed into the Willamette River on Wednesday.

Melting snow and heavy rainfall led to the overflow at several locations, according to the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.

The overflow began at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday and was continuing into Wednesday night. Once it stops, the public is advised to avoid contact with the Willamette River for 48 hours.

The overflow began at the outfall near the Ross Island Bridge and extended downstream.

Portland's combined sewer system carries sewage and stormwater runoff in the same pipes. In December 2011, Portland completed a 20-year program of sewer improvements that included big pipes on both sides of the Willamette River along the Columbia Slough.

The improvements eliminate 99 percent of combined sewer overflows from the slough and 94 percent from the river, according to the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.

Before the city completed the CSO control program, the bureau reports combined sewers overflowed an average of 50 times a year. Today, the combined system overflows to the Willamette River an average of four times per winter and once every three summers.

This is the second combined sewer overflow of the season. The previous incident occurred on Thanksgiving.

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