Corvallis, OR—The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Corvallis $25,800 for violating the state water quality standard for bacteria by discharging untreated sewage and stormwater to the Willamette River in March and October 2017.
The city, which operates a municipal wastewater collection, treatment and disposal system under a DEQ wastewater discharge permit, also failed to comply with reporting requirements in its permit.
The city's collection system includes combined sewers designed to collect rain and snowmelt, sewage and industrial wastewater. Overflows occur when heavy rainfall or snowmelt combines with wastewater to exceed the system's capacity and overflows to surface water without treatment.
Such an overflow occurred from about 8:23 p.m. on March 14, 2017 to 3:50 a.m. on March 16 sending about 33 million gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater into the Willamette River. Before the overflow, an alarm indicated that the overflow was imminent but the city failed to respond to the alarm.
The city also failed to orally report the March overflow within 24 hours as required by its permit. Corvallis orally reported the overflow to DEQ and the Oregon Emergency Response System on March 17. The city also failed to report the overflow in writing to DEQ within five days as required by its permit. The city submitted a written report to DEQ on March 22.
Another overflow occurred on Oct. 22, 2017, sending about 4 million gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater into the Willamette River. This discharge occurred after the city failed to properly test new equipment.
Since the overflows, the city has taken steps to improve employee training.
Discharging untreated or partially treated sewage to waters of the state threatens public health. Sewage can also pollute water, harming aquatic life and rendering public waters unsafe for human consumption and for recreation, commercial or agricultural uses.
Corvallis has until Jan. 29 to appeal the fine.
View enforcement notice at https://www.oregon.gov/deq/nr/01118corvallis.pdf
Katherine Benenati, Public Affairs Specialist, Eugene, 541-686-7997, firstname.lastname@example.org