Mechanical Failure Causes Sewer Overflow

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 @ 01:05 PM gHale


After heavy rain and a mechanical failure caused a sanitary sewer overflow, 2.4 million gallons of untreated wastewater released into the Kansas River at the South Kansas River pump station.

Rainfall from last Tuesday afternoon and evening caused higher than normal wastewater and stormwater flow volumes, said city of Topeka spokeswoman Aly Van Dyke.

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The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has been notified and indicated there isn’t a need for a public advisory. Downstream water supply systems have also been notified.

“Once notified of the issue, our staff responded immediately to address the overflow,” said Sylvia Davis, director of Topeka Water Pollution Control. “Staff’s response helped to minimize the overflow and kept a bad situation from getting worse.”

The city will continue to sample and monitor the condition of the river and will make additional notifications if necessary, Van Dyke said.

The wastewater system can handle 60 million gallons per day, said deputy city manager Doug Gerber. During heavy rainfall, the system rapidly reaches the limit it can handle.

The city has experienced a number of pump failures that have affected the Kansas River.

Last October, the city paid a $10,000 fine and signed a consent agreement with the KDHE after an April 2015 mechanical failure dumped 3 million gallons of raw sewage into the river.

In July, heavy rains caused Topeka to dump as many as 50 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the river before it underwent a secondary cleaning process. That bypass is allowed under the Oakland treatment plant’s KDHE permit. Later that month, a sewer main leak allowed about 55,000 gallons of raw sewage to enter the river.

In December 2013, a failure at the sanitary sewer bypass pumping station near Interstate 70 and N.W. MacVicar Avenue discharged waste into the Kansas River.