100,000 Gallons of Wastewater Spilled into Russian River; Spill Largest Anyone Can Remember

The spill into the river was the largest that anyone can remember, said Sonoma County Water Agency spokesman Brad Sherwood.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
—By Bay City News

Crews early this morning finished replacing a section of a 16-inch diameter sewer pipe that ruptured and spilled wastewater into the Russian River in Guerneville on Thursday afternoon.

Sonoma County Water Agency spokesman Brad Sherwood said about 100,000 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled into the river 150 feet away from the leak.

A resident in the area reported the leak after seeing water from the pipe 12 feet underground bubbling in a patch of grass around 11 p.m. Wednesday.

When crews responded to the leak Thursday, the pipe ruptured, Sherwood said.

"It looked like it started as a crack. About five feet sliced open," Sherwood said.

The 40-year-old pipe lined with concrete was leaking 40,000 gallons of untreated wastewater per hour, he said.

One water agency crew opened a manhole cover and used hoses to suck up wastewater into eight tanker trucks that hauled the water to a treatment plant nearby, Sherwood said.

He said he did not yet know how many gallons of untreated wastewater were hauled away.

Another crew dried the pipe and installed a 12-foot section of PVC pipe, Sherwood said.

He said the Sonoma County Water Agency will evaluate other sewer pipes in the Beach and Orchard avenues area of Guerneville where the rupture occurred.

The evaluation is part of the water agency's capital improvement program to update infrastructure, Sherwood said.

The spill into the river was the largest that anyone can remember, Sherwood said.

Wastewater maintenance and work crews, including biologists, responded to the sewage spill, and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sonoma County Health Services and Fire and Emergency Services were notified, he said.

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