Combination of storm water, sewage overflows into Willamette Riv - KPTV - FOX 12

Combination of storm water, sewage overflows into Willamette River

Posted: Updated: Sep 20, 2017 08:33 PM
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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Around 3,000 gallons of combined storm water and sewage overflowed into the Willamette River in southeast Portland on Wednesday.

The four-minute overflow began at 4:10 a.m. Wednesday at the pump station at Southeast Alder Street and Water Avenue.

That pump station, built in 1952, is being upgraded and will be taken offline by October for two years of construction.

The upgrades will improve reliability and increase pumping capacity to prevent sewage releases into buildings and streets as well as overflows to the river, according to the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.

The bureau reports combined sewer overflows are rare, but when they happen the public is advised to avoid contact with the river for 48 hours. In this case, that covers the Willamette River from the Morrison Bridge to the Columbia River confluence.

The bureau said additional overflows occurred at the station at 2:33 p.m. and 3:01 p.m. lasting a total of about 30 minutes. 

The bureau initially said another combined sewage overflow occurred Wednesday at 2 p.m. at North Edison Street and Philadelphia Avenue, but later retracted that information. 

A combined sewer overflow is about 80 percent storm water and 20 percent sewage, according to the Bureau of Environmental Services.

Since completing the “Big Pipe Project” in 2011, a 20-year $1.4 billion program to reduce overflows, the number of CSOs have been reduced by 94 percent to the Willamette River and 99 percent to the Columbia Slough, according to the bureau. 

Before the project, CSOs occurred an average of 50 times a year, with some instances lasting days. Today, the combined system overflows to the Willamette River an average of four times per winter and once every three summers.

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