Sewage overflows into lake : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday, February 9, 2000

Sewage overflows into lake About 700 gallons flowed into Westlake Village storm drains because of a blocked sewer, official said. By JOSH KARP

WESTLAKE VILLAGE -- About 700 gallons of untreated sewage discharged into Westlake Lake on Monday, city officials said. The discharge resulted from a blockage in the shaft of a manhole near the intersection of Agoura and Lakeview Canyon roads, said John Knipe, the city's engineer. Some grease buildup, probably from local restaurants, created a partial blockage in the sewer manhole, which forced some sewage to fill up the manhole's shaft and leak onto the street, he said. The sewage eventually went into a storm drain, which discharges into the lake. There shouldn't be any environmental impacts resulting from the spill because it was a relatively small volume and was mostly, if not all, liquid, Knipe said. A local gas station attendant noticed the spill and notified the Fire Department at 9:30 a.m. Monday. The department contacted the Las Virgenes Water District, which determined the problem and notified the city. The city then contacted the Los Angeles County Public Works Department, which repaired the problem by about 1:30 p.m. Monday, Knipe said. The line is maintained by the Los Angeles County Sanitation District. The Public Works Department vacuumed the road and sucked up about 100 gallons of sewage to keep it from flowing into the lake. Officials said the reaction time was slowed partly by the fact that public works crews were on call elsewhere until about noon, Knipe said. "I think we want to improve our reaction time in getting the message to us," he said. "We'll be coordinating with the agencies involved in this to cut down on time. When these things occur, you always work to improve the response time." A similar spill that likely resulted from grease buildup occurred at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza in Thousand Oaks in August, when a small portion of a 500- to 2,000-gallon raw sewage leak entered the lake. While the city has experienced a few spills in the last several years, residents think there's room for improvement. "My reaction in general is surprise and horror," said James Pauley, president of the Westlake Island Homeowners Assn. "The lake is vital to the island and the city of Westlake, and we've got to keep it clean." The city blocked off the area around the spill Monday until everything was cleaned up. The spill was reported to the Los Angeles County Health Department, the California Water Quality Board and the state's Office of Emergency Services, but Knipe doesn't expect the city will be fined for the sewage leak, Knipe said. "Just due to the volume and precautions that were taken, I don't see that we would be fined," he said. "As soon as we found out about it, we reacted to the situation." The Ventura County Environmental Health Division was also notified of the spill because the lake is in both Los Angeles and Ventura counties

-- Martin Thompson (, February 13, 2000

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