Sewage spills into Platte River

By Staff
Posted 5/4/10

    COMMERCE CITY – Metro Wastewater plant authorities in Commerce City said there was no danger to the public after a sewage spill into the South Platte River Friday afternoon. …

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Sewage spills into Platte River

Posted

    COMMERCE CITY – Metro Wastewater plant authorities in Commerce City said there was no danger to the public after a sewage spill into the South Platte River Friday afternoon.

It happened at the Metro Wastewater plant near 64th Avenue and York Street. The overflow was under control within 3 ½ hours, according to company officials.

Metro Wastewater spokesman Steve Frank said the heavy rains last week caused the problem. The water churned up debris from the bottom of the plant’s pipes which, in turn, clogged up bar screens. Those bar screens remove debris from the water as it enters the treatment process.

Frank said because of the rain-swollen river, the overflow of wastewater represented a bit more than 0.1 of 1 percent of the river’s flow at the time of the spill.

    “Thousands of miles of sewers connect to our system,” Frank said. “When the ground becomes saturated -- as it did after four days of rain – the water begins to seep into sewers.  When the pipes fill and the water flows, it scours the pipes and brings with it debris that has settled to the bottom of the pipe over time. When the water and debris got to the filters (called bar screens) at the entrance to the treatment process, the debris clogged the bar screens and kept water from going through them.  When the water had no place else to go, it lapped over the top of the channel that brings it into the plant.”

   Crews from the plant, as well as Garney Construction, which was on site working on another project, and Wagner Rents, which provided additional pumps, stopped the spill Friday afternoon.

   “We were lucky because it was a workday and there were experienced employees on hand to tackle the problem,” Frank said. “Up to 100 people worked to set up pumps to enable us to bypass the clogged bar screens.”

As a precaution, warnings were sent to users downstream from the plant. City officials from Brighton and Fort Lupton, who cities are close to the Platte River, were not available for comment.

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