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Salem dumps sewage in river,

AP H&N 1/30/04

SALEM (AP) - Recent heavy rain has forced the city to dup raw sewage into the Willamette River, officials said.

City workers opened diversion gates about 11 p.m. Wednesday after rainwater overloaded the city's sanitary sewer system.  The city continued to divert diluted sewage into the river Thursday, said Eric Johnson, wastewater supervisor for the Public Works Department..

Warnings were posted urging people to avoid contact with the river because of potentially high levels of bacteria.  City officials will notify residents when the overflow has ended and bacteria levels return to normal.

The sanitary sewer system is entirely separate from storm water drains.  But sewage is diverted when rainwater gets into the sewer system, through roof pipes in older houses that feed directly ihto it, through holes in manhole covers and through cracks in more than 660 miles of sewer pipes.

Salem has about six or seven raw sewage overflows each winter.  The overflows typically total about 120 million to 160 million gallons, city records show.

So far this winter, about 72 million gallons has gone into the river, not including the latest release, said Paul Eckley, the public works operations manager.






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