High water from recent flooding and other factors resulted in the city of Albany discharging untreated sewage into the Willamette River this week.
“It happens during high water. We have a few a year,” said Marilyn Smith, city spokeswoman.
“This is something that every riverfront city has to deal with. Water has to go somewhere,” she added.
The city of Albany built a new wastewater treatment plant in 2009 to try and solve many of its overflow issues, and is looking to make $13 million in additional upgrades starting this summer to deal with capacity problems in extreme rains.
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On Sunday, the wastewater treatment plant was at capacity, and the city discharged about 68,500 gallons through an emergency outfall near Montgomery Street, according to information from Scott LaRoque, treatment plant supervisor.
A power outage helped cause the backup that led the sewer piping system to overflow in that instance.
On Wednesday night and Thursday, the system reached capacity again and overflowed at the Montgomery Street outfall and at another site near Bowman Park. Officials don’t yet have an estimate of how much sewage was spilled into the Willamette with the second overflow.
Due to the rains and flooding, inflows at the wastewater treatment plant surged from the typical 37 million gallons per day to 57 million gallons per day.