Weekend sewage spill goes undetected

The Associated Press
Thursday September 14, 2000

SACRAMENTO — Up to four million gallons of raw sewage seeped into the American River before it was detected over the weekend, said Sacramento County health officials. 

The spill was detected Saturday but warning signs were not posted around the river beaches until Tuesday. 

“You could see huge quantities of sewage coming right out of the storm drain. It was frothing up,” said Kevin Odell, one of the two fishermen who noticed the spill and tried to alert authorities. 

The county environmental health department didn’t find out about the spill until Monday and notified the parks department. Parks officials posted signs advising swimmers and waders to stay out of the water. 

The spill may have started Thursday when a contractor from Ford Construction Co. replaced a sewer main near California State University, Sacramento. 

It is unclear how much sewage gushed into the river, but estimates are between 1 and 4 million, said Pat Leary, a senior engineer at the Central Valley Regional Water Control Board. 

The city could face enforcement action or fines for the snafu, which is the third spill affecting the American River this year, Leary said. 

No fish kills or illnesses linked to the spill have been reported. Water officials say there was probably not enough sewage spilled to affect the drinking