Drinking Water Safe after Sewage Spills into Lake Arrowhead

Jan. 4, 2008
Trench kept sewage from running directly into the lake

California’s Lake Arrowhead Community Services District (LACSD)’s drinking water is still safe, despite 2,000 gallons of sewage having been spilled into Lake Arrowhead at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29, according to a report in Lake Arrowhead Mountain News.

The spill was on private property near a boathouse, according to Maintenance Manager Robert Ardis. When the call came in on the district’s emergency phone line, Ardis and his staff rushed to the site in Shelter Cove off North Shore Road, isolated the spill and began cleanup, the newspaper reported.

To keep the sewage, which was flowing down a driveway, from flowing directly into the lake, Ardis and his staff dug a trench by the side of the lake.

“It never ran directly into the lake,” Ardis said, “but it did seep through.”

The hazardous materials spill report filed with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) on Dec. 29 states an “eight-inch sewer branch line backed up through a manhole, releasing approximately 2,000 gallons of sewage into a gutter that flowed into Lake Arrowhead.”

The report notes the spill was contained and drinking water was not impacted.

LACSD’s standard spill procedure includes sampling at the point of contact and at points 100 ft, 200 ft and 300 ft from the spill. “The sampling distance,” Ardis said, “depends on the severity of the spill.”

Tests showed a higher than normal level of bacteria at the shoreline, but normal levels at 100 ft, according to the paper.

The cause of the spill was roots in the sewer line, according to Ardis. All the affected lines are being cleaned and injected with root inhibitor foam.

Ardis and his staff clean about a third of the district’s total sewer pipes a year--about 500,000 ft of pipe, the paper reported.

This area will be added to Ardis’s “hot spot” list, according to Interim General Manager Ken Nelsen. “He’ll recheck it in a year to make sure the roots haven’t grown back.”

The OES fact sheet on reporting sewage releases states that “proper and timely notification [of any spill of 1,000 gallons or more] is imperative to allow government agencies and downstream users to take prompt action to protect public health and safety, the environment, and drinking water supplies.”

Once OES is notified of such a spill, they notify the appropriate regional water quality control board, the local public health department and the local office of environmental health. These offices determine any appropriate safety measures.

Source: Lake Arrowhead Mountain News

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