City News

Raw sewage spills into Little Pudding River Saturday

About 5,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Little Pudding River in northeast Salem Saturday after heavy rain overloaded the city’s system.

The overflow happened around 11 a.m. at 4770 Glendale Ave N.E., the city of Salem said in a press release. The overflow was stopped around 2:30 p.m.

Salem’s Willow Lake Wastewater Treatment Facility and River Road Wet Weather Treatment Facility were operating at maximum capacity during the rain.

“When the ground becomes saturated, groundwater enters the sanitary sewer from cracks and holes in pipes in addition to footing drains and other sources of extraneous water from private property. When this occurs, the ability of the sanitary sewer system to transport sewerage to the water pollution control facility at Willow Lake is exceeded and the system becomes surcharged,” the city’s statement said.

Signs have been posted telling people to avoid contact with the Little Pudding River due to high bacteria levels. The city is testing the water and will remove the signs when bacteria levels return to normal.

The overflow is the second incident the city has reported publicly this year. On Jan. 18, snowmelt overloaded the city’s sewage treatment plants, resulting in more than 46,000 gallons of sewage overflow at three locations.

People can report overflowing manholes or spills to the Public Works Department Dispatch Center at 503-588-6311. 

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.