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City: Rain causes sewer overflow into Willamette

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The city is warning of sewage in the Willamette from the Sellwood Bridge downstream to the river’s confluence with the Columbia River near Kelley Point Park.

According to the Bureau of Environmental Services, heavy rain during the March 14-15 weekend caused Portland’s combined sewer system to overflow into the river. The public should avoid contact with the river — especially recreational activities where water can be swallowed — and any fish caught in it should be thoroughly cooked to avoid contamination.

Portland’s combined sewer system carries sewage and stormwater runoff in the same pipes in much of the city. During very heavy rainstorms, the increased stormwater runoff can cause these pipes to overflow into the river.

Portland completed a $1.4 billion project in December 2011 to reduce the overflows from an average of 50 per year to no more than four per winter and one every third summer.

In addition to operating the sewer system, BES runs the city's stormwater management and watershed restoration programs.

More information is available at www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/overflow.