Dec 28, 2000

Sewage Enters Houston Drinking Water Supply

A spill of up to 2 million gallons of sewage due to a failed pump has operators of the municipal drinking water supply for the nation's fourth largest city bracing for possible contamination.

Environmental officials are evaluating the effects of the raw sewage that could seep into the water supply.

An inspection failed to detect a disabled pump Saturday and sewage flowed into a tributary of Spring Creek, said Rick Melcher, spokesman for AquaSource, a Houston contractor. The problem was discovered Sunday.

"It could very well be that it's diluted and would not be a threat to the water supply, but we don't know right now,'' said Barbara Sullivan, environmental investigator for the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission.

About 65 percent of the city's water supply comes from surface water and Lake Houston supplies about 25 percent of that. The sewage could take up to two weeks to reach water supply intake valves in Lake Houston.

(Source: the Associated Press)