Sewage Spill Contaminates Blithedale Canyon Creek

More than 2,250 gallons spilled into the creek when a manhole overflowed, and the city is currently testing the water daily.

Sewage gushed out from a manhole on Marguerite Ave. spilling down West Blithedale and into the Blithedale Canyon creek on Sunday.

Public Works Director Jill Barnes said the department received a call at 11:15 a.m. Crews estimate about 2,250 gallons of waste spilled into the water. They were able to clean up about 750 gallons from the street and pump in back into the sewer.

They also removed a couple of large tree branches, which caused the blockage.

"It would seem that someone would have to open the manhole and put something that large into the sewer," Barnes said.

The city took water samples on Sunday, and is currently waiting for test results to determine the amount of bacteria present. Barnes said they're also working with county environmental agencies, and have posted signs along the creek to notify residents of the contamination.

The spill was confined to the street and the creek, and didn't affect any homes in Blithedale Canyon.

"We will continue to sample everyday until we start to get readings that indicate no contamination," Barnes said.

But, the response time was perhaps not quick enough. A woman posted on the Mill Valley Patch Facebook page Sunday afternoon that her neighbor reported the incident around 7:30 a.m., and cleanup efforts didn't start until 1:30 p.m. 

"Where is the urgency here??!!," she wrote. "They still have not posted signs downstream even though I've called repeatedly. The guy here casually said he'll put them up in 40 minutes. I'm sorry, but kids and dogs play in there, and this is a much too casual a response. I am very upset and disappointed to say the least!!!"

Barnes said those calls are usually reported to the Mill Valley Police Department.

"Typically they go to the police dispatch," she said. "We're looking for the police dispatch report for this incident."

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Jim Oliveira November 05, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Your tax dollars at work.
leah aaron November 06, 2012 at 04:25 AM
the police are busy. dogs barking. babies crying. women in minivans doing 35 in a 30 zone. No time to post signs warning the public about a massive sewage leak.
Rico November 06, 2012 at 05:17 PM
So, somebody opened a manhole and dumped tree branches in the sanitary sewer line. It could have been a deliberate act of sabotage, a prank, or a cheapo buzzard tree or landscape service just trying to save hauling to debris to the dump. I have seen many cases of contractors and citizens dumping all kinds of things into the storm drain system too. Some of the things that I have seen when investigating plugged storm drains are: Newspaper carriers dumping bundles of newspapers into the catch basins and then citizens changing their oil, parking directly on the catch basin grate and opening the drain plug and dumping the oil directly into the CB. What an oily mess when water starts flowing from the first rains. I have seen concrete truck drivers clean the remains of a load after delivery clean the chute with the water that they have on the truck, dumping it into the catch basin. Then the concrete sets up and when the first rains come, the drain is plugged and flooding of the street occurs. A digging bar or a jackhammer is required to clear this plug, the Vactor won't do the job. I have seen where landscape maintenance companies will mow a lawn, and dump the scrapple into a catch basin. You can't blame public works for any of these problems, And Jim O, how is Georgia ?
Laura Chariton December 25, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Contacts for reporting spills of any kind. Agencies to contact: If you are witnessing an illegal discharge to a storm drain, creek or wetland during normal business hours: call your local stormwater illegal discharge: In the City limits contact Julie McClure at jmcclure@cityofmillvalley.org In unincorporated Mill Valley: Howard Bunce hbunce@marincounty.org After normal business hours: emergency : 911 or Marin County Sheriff non-emergency line: 473-7233 All other contacting information including California Department of Fish and Game, California Emergency Management for toxins, etc. is at: http://www.mcstoppp.org/sw_idcontacts.htm#illegal Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention website is a wonderful resource. www.mcstoppp.org. How we treat our creeks is a measure of if we humans will survive. "The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land." Luna Leopold Of all the fresh water in the world: .9% is Surface Water; .3 % of that is in lakes, rivers and swamps and .2% of that is in rivers. We are damaging our creeks and the delicate web of life that is the ecosystem for untold species. Please respond more quickly and pro-actively to these issues and protect a vital community and environmental resource. While the response time seemed lengthy, all citizens need to be vigilant in reporting spills to avert future pollutants from entering the Creek. Laura Chariton, MA Riparian Policy and Restoration


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