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A failure in a wastewater system in Pueblo, Colo., caused 374,000 gallons of partially treated sewage to seep into the Arkansas River. The sewage raised the bacterial levels in the river above regulatory limits.
According to The Gazette, this was the largest discharge from Pueblo’s system in about 4 ½ years. The sewage caused E. coli and bacteria to shoot up to thousands of organisms per 100 cubic milliliters. The accepted standard is 126 per 100 milliliters.
Gary Soldano, southeast regional office supervisor for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s water quality division, told The Gazette that the test results will determine whether or no Pueblo is penalized.
The sewage happened when the final stage of treatment, chlorination, stopped functioning. The water seeped out before chlorination.
The Pueblo County Health Department was notified and a warning was issued to avoid contact with the river.
Gene Michael, Pueblo’s wastewater director, does not characterize the discharge as a spill, since the water had gone through all of the treatment process, except for chlorination.
This is the second time this year that wastewater has discharged into the Arkansas river from Pueblo.