We have received several reports of a sewage discharge into Devils Lake which has people who live nearby upset. Neighbors near the City pump station located at 2660 NE Lake Drive say a overflow pipe discharged raw sewage over the ground and into the lake. Images shared with us today show an oily bluish film on the surface of the lake. The film has been carried by wind to other areas of the lake. Based on the existence of the yellow caution tape around the discharge pipe we assume the City is aware of the spill but have not been able to obtain additional information.
We are asking for a detailed explanation of the following items:
- Reason for the failure
- Quantity in gallons of the spill
- Length of the occurrence:
- Time frame for repair
- Time frame and plan for cleanup and responsible entity
- Reason that notification of a water quality event was not noticed to the public
We have sent this announcement to you immediately out of an abundance of caution. We will post updates on this situation on the website as soon as we learn additional information. Since there are obvious signs of the spill as shown in the above images and since there has been no public notice we thought we share these general guidelines for sewage spills.
Raw sewage contains biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that can cause serious illness and even death. There is also a risk from contamination with unknown chemicals such as solvents, carcinogens, and pesticides. Always assume that overflow water is contaminated with sewage.
The risk to health depends on the microbes present, duration of exposure and method of exposure. Microbes in raw sewage can enter the body via the nose, mouth, open wounds or by inhalation of aerosols or dusts. The most common modes of infection are through drinking contaminated water or hand to mouth transmission. Skin contact alone does not pose a health threat unless you have an open wound.
The survival of pathogens depends on a number of factors: location, type of surface contaminated, whether disinfectants are used and environmental conditions. UV radiation reduces the survival rate of pathogens.
Mild temperatures and higher humidity increase survival times. The risk of exposure when handling sewage can be reduced significantly by effective and immediate clean-up and by taking appropriate safety precautions.
For a detailed description of what to do when a sewage spill occurs download this Sewage Spill Fact Sheet.