Wet Weather Increases Sewage Spills in Bay Area

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that there have been more large, environmentally damaging sewage spills in the San Francisco Bay Area during the first two months of 2008 than in the last 7 1/2 months of 2007.

Two hundred seventy-six sewage spills either flowed into Bay Area waterways or contained at least 1,000 gallons of effluent, according to the Feb. 27 article, which was based on an analysis of State Water Resources Control Board statistics. During the last half of 2007, 249 spills exceeded 1,000 gallons or entered the waterway.

Blocked pipes were blamed for recent spills in Sleepy Hollow and San Rafael. The blockage in San Rafael was caused by paper towels that apparently were flushed down toilets and got caught on tree roots that had grown into the pipe.

According to the article, experts believe the large amount of rain this winter is partly responsible for the number of sewage spills. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency compliance chief said, however, that the main problem is old brick or clay sewer pipes, some of which are fastened together with tarred rope.

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