Something smells fishy in Huron

HURON A broken sewer line dumped raw sewage into a stream, killing about 15 carp and 15 other smalle
MIKE FITZPATRICK
May 24, 2010

HURON

A broken sewer line dumped raw sewage into a stream, killing about 15 carp and 15 other smaller fish, a county official said.

The stream runs under Cleveland Road West, just east of Huron Market. The pipe ruptured at about noon Wednesday and was repaired Friday afternoon, Erie County sanitary engineer Jack Meyers said.

The sewer line, referred to as a waste water force main, is near the Adams Avenue pump station.

Sewage is pumped through the line to the Huron Basin waste water treatment plant on River Road, Meyers said.

"The stream got sewage in it," Meyers said. "We're sorry that happened, but when a mechanical failure happens like that, sometimes the sewage gets into a stream.

"It's unfortunate for the environment," Meyers said.

The pipe was buried 15 feet beneath Adams Avenue, Meyers said, and private contractors were called out to repair it.

Workers discovered the break after the street near the pump station buckled and softened, Meyers said. He kept the city informed of the break and also reported it to an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency hotline.

Signs have been posted along the stream warning people to keep out, Meyers said.

A warning sign is also posted on the beach near the Huron water plant.

"If anybody plays or swims in the water there is bacteria in there, and they could get sick," Meyers said.

The spill did not affect drinking water, Meyers said.

"It has nothing to do with drinking water," Meyers said. "The drinking water is safe."

The stream is gray and has an awful stench, he said.

"We'll test it on Monday, and if the bacteria levels go down, we'll remove the warning signs," Meyers said. He did not know current bacteria levels of the stream.

Meyers said he'll send a report on the incident to the EPA. The report will explain what happened and how the county will prevent it from happening again, Meyers said.

Two private contractors and county workers ran tanker trucks loaded with the waste water from the Adams Avenue pump station to the waste water treatment plant on River Road the past couple of days to make sure sewers did not back up and seep into the basements of Huron homes, Meyers said.

Ted Steinmetz lives near the stream and reads by it every morning, he said. He spotted several dead carp Thursday and was overpowered by a foul stench.

Steinmetz has lived near the stream since 1966. He said he cannot recall ever seeing so many dead fish in the stream, which leads out to Lake Erie.

"You couldn't swim in that stream right now and live," Steinmetz said.