May 16, 2008 in City

Sewage leak at Hayden Lake

Erica F. Curless Staff writer

Up to 11,000 gallons of raw sewage may have spilled into Hayden Lake near Cooper’s Bay this week because of a plugged pipe, perhaps from residents flushing diapers and baby wipes.

A Hayden Lake Recreational Water and Sewer District employee discovered the leak Thursday morning. Test results from water samples taken near the site should be available this morning.

Without knowing the amount of E. coli bacteria in the lake, the district and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality don’t know if a health hazard exists. The area, which is near the Tobler Marina boat launch and residential condos, is posted with warning signs to minimize exposure to water in the area.

In a news release, Hayden Lake water district Chairman Gerry House said there’s no way to determine how much sewage spilled into the lake, but that it could range from 50 gallons to 11,000 gallons.

The district doesn’t know how long the sewage was flowing into the lake, beyond that the overflow occurred sometime between Tuesday morning and Thursday morning.

Sewage flows from the Cooper’s Bay lift station at the rate of about four gallons per minute, which would equal about 11,000 gallons during a 48-hour period, said John Tindall of the DEQ.

This isn’t the only problem the district has had with plugged pipes in the last few weeks.

“Plugged pumps have become a recurrent problem as the number of users increases, and with this increased use, the number of people flushing baby wipes and diapers also increases,” House said.

Fixing the problem requires workers to remove the pumps for cleaning, which is expensive and will result in increased sewer bills for all users, House said.

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