10 gallons of sewage spills into Fallen Leaf Lake | TahoeDailyTribune.com

10 gallons of sewage spills into Fallen Leaf Lake

Ten gallons of sewage leaked into Fallen Leaf Lake early Friday morning.

Ten gallons of sewage leaked into Fallen Leaf Lake early Friday morning, but according to South Tahoe Public Utility District it could have been much worse.

The district received a call about a possible sewer back-up off Fallen Leaf Road at 7:44 p.m. Thursday. District employees discovered the blockage in a private sewer line. Spilled sewage was pooling around a private manhole.

The blockage was eventually cleared at midnight, sending a surge of sewage downhill through the private line.

The district had positioned a vacuum truck downhill to suction out overflow, but the amount of sewage overloaded the truck, which led to 10 gallons of sewage flowing into Fallen Leaf Lake.

"Our crew realized that once the line was unplugged, a freight train of sewage would flow downhill and surcharge the district's manhole at the bottom of the hill. This particular manhole sits only 10 feet from the edge of Fallen Leaf Lake," Richard Solbrig, STUPD general manager, said in a news release.

As much as 1,800 gallons of sewage could have spilled into the lake were it nor for actions taken by district personnel.

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"The crew's foresight to station the district's vactor truck at the downhill manhole, resulted in 99 percent of the sewage overflow to be captured. The crew's quick response time and foresight dramatically minimized the damage caused by the spill."

The district took water samples at the point of entry, 60 feet into the lake, and 60 feet east and west along the shore of the spill at 4:40 a.m.

No detectable levels of ammonia came back in any of the samples.

Richard Jones with STPUD pointed out the situation could have been much worse had a private plumber cleared the blockage.

The manhole cover would have lifted off and over 1,800 gallons of sewage would have spilled into Fallen Leaf Lake in the middle of the night,"said Jones.

STPUD believes the blockage was caused by a chunk of asphalt found in the sewer line.