Kalispell, Montana: 180,000 gallon raw sewage leak

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Sewage spills on Lake McDonald shoreline By By JIM MANN The Daily Inter Lake

An estimated 180,000 gallons of raw sewage leaked onto the shoreline of Glacier National Park's sparkling Lake McDonald.

Some of the sewage reached the lake, and visitors were advised to avoid water-related activities in Lake McDonald, which is 10 miles long, a mile wide and 400 feet deep.

The leak was discovered Friday after park employees noticed a foul odor in the area about two miles east of Apgar Village.

Park workers spent the weekend cleaning up the mess under a plan approved by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. Sixteen 55-gallon drums of contaminated soil were excavated from the shoreline.

Park spokesman David Eaker said the leak caused some discoloration of the water in the area. Water samples are being tested for fecal coliform bacteria.

The source of the leak was an open valve in the sewer line that runs between Lake McDonald Lodge and West Glacier. An investigation is under way to determine how the drain valve had been left open.

John Kilpatrick, the park's facilities manager, said the opened valve had probably been leaking sewage since May 15, when Lake McDonald Lodge's water and sewer systems were started up. The systems are shut down during the winter.

By deducting flow meter counts at lift stations near Sprague and Apgar campgrounds, it was estimated that 180,000 gallons had leaked from the valve, Kilpatrick said.

The leaking valve was about 50 feet from Lake McDonald, and after it was discovered, the U.S. Public Health Services and Montana DEQ were immediately notified, a park release states.

The area has been cordoned off.

The cleanup focused on a 50-by-75 foot area. It involved excavation, disinfecting the area with a solution of sodium hypochloride, and covering the area with sticks, pine needles and other natural debris.

A different sewer line backed up last July in the Apgar Village area, causing an overflow of 100-200 gallons of sewage out of a manhole.


-- Doris (reaper1@mindspring.com), June 06, 2000

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