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Sewage flows into Trinity River
9 million gallons spilled in pump-station outage
By Kendall Anderson and Kim Horner / The Dallas Morning News
Nine million gallons of raw sewage poured into the Trinity River on Friday because of a power outage at a station that pumps wastewater to a treatment facility, Dallas Water Utilities officials said Tuesday.
The amount of discharge, which officials said is the largest in recent history, drew concerns from a local environmentalist.
The spill happened when a power outage cut off electricity to the pump, causing an overflow of water near electrical components, said Terrace Stewart, Dallas Water Utilities director. Power was restored, but the contact between water and electrical components caused an electrical short, shutting down five of the pump station's six pumps, he said.
"Unfortunately this is planet Earth, and we do have power outages. One-hundred million gallons coming in and your power drops off, you can't handle it," Mr. Stewart said, referring to the overflow within the pump station. "But we dealt with it."
The pumps, which send wastewater to a nearby treatment plant, were repaired and back in service Friday, said Anthony C. Post, interim assistant director of Dallas Water Utilities.
Drinking water was not affected, Mr. Stewart said, because the point where the discharge occurred is south of the point that Dallas gets its water. He also said there is no reason to be concerned about the environment.
"There has been no evidence of any environmental impact," he said. The untreated wastewater flowed from the Cadiz Street Pump Station at 315 Cadiz St. and into a drainage channel that feeds into the Trinity River, Mr. Post said.
The city reported the incident within 24 hours, as required, to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, Mr. Post said. On major spills, state law requires the city to notify the TNRCC within 24 hours, in order to protect public health.
Ned Fritz, a local environmentalist, said the size of the discharge concerns him. He said it's hard to say what environmental impact there could be. His biggest concern, he said, is that Dallas officials haven't listened to environmentalists who have spotted smaller discharges in the Trinity River in the past.
"We've noticed some discharges near the wastewater treatment plant, and we've complained, but they never consulted us about it," said Mr. Fritz, who has worked to preserve the Trinity River. "I'm concerned that they [city officials] attempt to do things without consulting anyone else or without any public input."
Mr. Stewart said he was not aware of any complaints about smaller discharges. He also said Dallas has received awards for its drinking water.
"We always listen to the public and try to be good neighbors," he said.
2000 The Dallas Morning News http://dallasnews.com/metro/99714_sewage_21met.A.html
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), June 21, 2000