Major sewage spill taints Matadero Creek

Roots cleared from a private pipe caused overflow downstream

More than 1,000 gallons of raw, untreated sewage spilled into Matadero Creek in Palo Alto Thursday, according to Ken Torke, manager of Palo Alto's environmental control program.

The spill was discovered at 2:08 p.m. but the cause is under investigation, Torke said.

Field investigators are looking at whether work being done by a contractor to remove a blockage in a private pipeline was involved in the overflow, he said.

When tree roots were cleared from a blockage in a pipe, they could have migrated downstream and caused a blockage in a city-owned pipeline, Torke said.

A private contractor is known to have been working in the area on Wednesday, he said. The sewage overflowed into the storm drain that leads to the creek on Porter Drive between Page Mill Road and Hillview Avenue, he said.

City crews stopped the overflow at 3:10 p.m. and dammed the creek. By 4:30 p.m., crews were pumping the contaminated water out of the creek, he said. About 26,000 gallons of creek water was removed.

Crews have taken water samples to test for coliform bacteria, which typically is found in water contaminated by sewage, he said. Torke said people should keep children and pets out of the creek until the contamination passes through.

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Like this comment
Posted by where is the dam?
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Sounds like the sewage spill happened near Foothill Expressway and the creek flows all the way through town to the bay. Where did they dam the spill? Can we see/smell the sewage from all over town?

Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of University South
on Nov 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Out of curiosity, where does one take 26,000 gallons of contaminated water? To the water treatment facility?

Like this comment
Posted by Doug Graham
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm

As of 8:00 pm Thursday the City was pumping sewage from the creek at the Laguna Avenue bridge in Barron Park (approximately 0.6 mile upstream from El Camino Real). They were pumping it into the large sewage tanker trucks that you occasionally see
around the city.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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