Power Outage Sends Sewage Into Rio Grande

Credit Ed Williams-KUNM

Wastewater flowing into the Rio Grande from the Southside Wastewater Reclamation Plant on a day when the plant was functioning properly.
Credit Ed Williams-KUNM

Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant spilled nearly 6 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande last Friday. Public Health New Mexico’s Ed Williams reports there was an equipment failure at one of the plant’s pumping facilities.

Officials with the Southside Wastewater Reclamation Plant say there was a spike in power during last week’s heavy snowstorm. That power spike disabled a pump station.

Plant Operations Manager Charles Leder says backup systems should have protected the facility from power fluctuations.

“Why they did not protect us from this power surge is under investigation because we thought we had just completed a $2.5 million facility that would take care of these things,” he said.

The release is a violation of the Clean Water Act. Workers at the Isleta Pueblo Environment Department not far downstream say their water tests showed high levels of E. Coli in the river after the spill.

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