Gophers contribute to treated wastewater spill

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In a press release, Idyllwild Water District General Manager Jack Hoagland reported Monday that IWD had experienced a spill of treated effluent from one of the district’s disposal ponds. The spill, he said, occurred as a result of a small slump failure of the extremely saturated soil in the earthen berm supporting the pond, extensive gopher activity in the berm and high levels in the pond due to flow increases to the Wastewater Treatment Plant owing to the recent storm activity.

Staff estimate the spill began about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7. The spill was discovered during the midday pond inspection at noon and stopped by 12:35 p.m.

Staff estimates that about 44,000 gallons of secondary stage treated effluent ran downhill to the north of the ponds. In conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and Regional Water Quality Control Board staff, IWD staff conducted initial soil and water sampling, and will implement a monitoring plan, along with the flow route of the spill, according to the press release. Results from the initial sampling are pending.

Staff has increased the frequency of pond-level monitoring inspections and will make repairs as soon as the weather conditions permit.

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