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Brief thunderstorm pollutes Willamette


The $1.4 billion Big Pipe project wasn't enough to keep the Willamette River safe during Monday's rain outburst.

The 12-minute thunderstorm and hail shower caused Portland's combined sewage system to overflow, sending untreated sewage into the water shortly after 4 p.m. Monday

The Bureau of Environmental Services advises people not to contact the water for at least 48 hours, or until late afternoon on Wednesday.

It's especially important to avoid swimming or jet skiiing in the river, BES says. Those who catch fish in the Willamette within 48 hours of a combined sewage overflow should wash their hands well and cook the fish thoroughly, to make sure the bacteria is killed.

The BIg Pipe project, completed in December 2011, has reduced sewage discharges into the river from an average of 50 per year to no more than four per winter, and one every third summer.

Steve Law can be reached at 503-546-5139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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