Major sewage spills in San Luis Obispo County

December 19, 2010

Health officials are warning the public to stay away from San Luis Obispo Creek, Arroyo Grande Creek, Meadow Creek, Oceano Lagoon and places where the creeks drain into the ocean because of two weekend sewage spills.

The catastrophic failure of a six inch pump line at the San Luis Obispo Reclamation Plant on Prado Road on Saturday evening resulted in the release of about 15,000 gallons of sewage into San Luis Obispo Creek.

A second sewage spill occurred when the effluent pump at the South San Luis Obispo Sanitation District failed. As a result, clogged sewage lines caused the release of an unknown quantity of sewage.

The plant is currently using a large diesel power pump in place of the failed effluent pump.

“Sewer lines are backed up and sewage is bubbling out of manhole covers,” said John Wallace, the district’s administrator. “Everything that comes into the plant is being treated.”

The San Luis Obispo County Health Agency said that contact or ingestion of the contaminated waters is likely to make one sick.

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These sort of spills do happen when we have large rain events. If the rain itself doesn’t overwhelm the facilities, complacent plant staff that are eating Christmas cookies instead of doing their jobs will cause the spill. I am suddenly reminded of Homer Simpson … “Which one is the ‘any’ key?”

A district engineer cannot control lazy staff or over-burdened facilities and we cant afford to build (or rebuild) facilities that would be able to handle the deluge we saw over the weekend.

So my advice …. Sewers are going to spill sometimes. Quite whining and stay out of the ocean for a couple weeks, nature will take care of the rest.

Unsubstantiated gossip here: My sources from within Wallace Group say that the South County spill was the result of Wallace’s failed engineering. I’d really like to see CCN or the Trib do a follow up on these spills now that the “crisis” is over and the problems have been identified. Surely there’s an update to these spills.

Sure, trees fall over and crush things or tear up pipelines, but why did the South County influent pumps stop pumping??? THAT can be controlled by people.

Wallace has been getting a lot of heat these days. CCN, please follow up and let us know whether Wallace deserves to be on the hot seat again.

I believe Wallace to be a reputable firm, that doesn’t mean that they don’t make mistakes. If there is one thing I know about John Wallace, it is that he will fix the problem whether it was his firms fault or not.

If CCN needs more stories there are much better targets in the engineering and architecture world than Wallace. What about the firm that is behind the Copelands shenanigans, like China Town? Or John Kings flagrant disregard of the building code in price Canyon, the Motel Inn, Balck Ranch ….? Or Walmart trying to get into the old Gottschalks building in SLO? Or the “redevelopment” of the Nipomo Rec Center? Oh, or what about the guys that are undercutting companies like Wallace by doing substandard work on EVERY project and lowing their overhead at the expense of the employees pay benefits?

At least Wallace is trying to make a living proving service to the public instead of lining their accounts with the funds of trash developers that are making back room deals and running the county into the ground all the while the firm owners expand their ocean view homes still telling their employees that there just isnt enough money to pay for your insurance anymore ….

Sorry, I dont work for Wallace, but you struck a nerve on this one ….

With all due respect, Darwin, but Wallace and Co have, in my opinion, a demonstrated history of bilking the taxpayers after their own inept bungling. From what I have been told that cogeneration system (turning waste gas generated in the sewerage process to electricity,) was built on faulty specs provided by Wallace and Co, and now the system (about a yr old,)is already failing and will NEVER pay for itself, they staff the plant with a contract “project manager” who Wallace has authorized to do the work the PLANT MANAGER should be doing, and another of there engineers allowed an important concrete structure on site there to nearly topple over during a different project because they are too incompetent to realize that plant was built on sandy soil. Of course, Wallace Group has never paid liquidated damages for the screw ups on their watch. Why would they?