Sewage spill in Point Isabel last week no longer a hazard
on March 21, 2012
After multiple spills from the city sewer system last Thursday and Saturday, residents began noticing warning signs in the Point Isabel region that the water may be contaminated. East Bay Regional Parks workers put the signs up as a precautionary measure to advise people to avoid any contact with the water.
“The amount of discharge is unknown,” said Matthew Graul, Water Resources Manager for the parks district, “and that is why we are being protective.”
Recent rainstorms overwhelmed the sewer system, causing the sewage to discharge into the bay. The system is designed that way so the sewage won’t back up into businesses and houses.
“We typically get 25 inches of rain in a year,” said Aaron Winer, project manager at Veolia, the company that manages Richmond’s wastewater treatment plant. “We got a quarter of that in four days.”
Last year, Veolia spent $10 million on sewer system repairs with the goal of eliminating overflow spills. However, it’s not currently possible to totally eliminate them Winer said, adding that the leakage could have been worse if not for the upgrades.
During a swim season, the East Bay Regional Park District tests the water once a week. But because of the spills, they tested the water earlier this week. Results will be available by the end of the week.
The recent spills do not put the ecosystem at risk, Graul said. The sewage is typically heavily diluted before it reaches the beach, Graul said, and he expects that the water was safe for human contact within 72 hours from the last spill.
Graul has confirmed with Richmond Confidential that the results of the tests are back and the water is healthy and safe.
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