The City of Lincoln City has decided to ‘go with the flow’ when it comes to cleaning up the 1,000 gallons of sewage that spilled onto Roads End State Park beach on June 21.
The City discussed the sewer line rupture that occurred on Logan Road at the June 24 City Council meeting. City Manager Ron Chandler and City Engineer Stephanie Reid both addressed questions from the council and explained what actually happened after the City reported that sewage was discharged through a stormwater culvert.
“One of the things we learned about this is that there's also a second culvert that sits on top of the main one,” Chandler said. “Our sewer line goes right in between the two of them. The break was actually occurred right underneath the top culvert.”
After the preliminary investigation, Reid said they know for sure the sewage got into one of the two culverts, but aren’t entirely sure of how that happened.
“We’re guessing that there was some compromise in the integrity of that culvert due to corrosion,” Reid said.
City Councilor Riley Hoagland was displeased with fact that the City Engineers had not discovered the cause of the leak, due to the fact that it creates a fear of this happening again.
“I don’t like hearing ‘we don’t know,’” Hoagland said. “You said you don’t know how the sewage got into the lower pipe, did you not inspect further how that sewage could have gotten in there? The overarching issue is how did that sewage get in there.”
Reid explained that her crews only went as far down to inspect the pipe as they needed to repair it. Chandler explained the process of fixing the pipe and preventing an even more excessive spill.
“What they did was they had to cut the pipe in two locations and cut it once on both sides of the pipe, put it in a new band and then connected with the pipe and put it together,” Chandler explained. “All this is done in the midst of beginning with cleaning out sludge.”
Mayor Dick Anderson commended the crew for their swift work and reminded everyone that these underground pipe breaks are almost always unpredictable.
“Nobody tells us in advance when it’s going to break, but kudos to a quick fix,” Anderson said.
As far as cleanup goes, Chandler said they were looking at two options. The first would be to have it naturally clean itself through the flow of the water coming out of the culverts, which they estimated would take about four weeks. The second would be to clean it themselves by using chlorine and other sanitizing cleaners to get bacteria off the rocks. But fortunately, they received some good news.
“DEQ said that because the flow actually entered the culvert and followed the stream, it’s more likely that the stream would clean it out,” Reid said.
For a long term solution in preventing another spill, Reid said the City will continue to investigate by using cameras in those culverts to try to identify any leaks. Reid also noted that it is unusual that a culver would even come into play with a sewer force break.
Hoagland also suggested that the City create a schedule for regularly testing the water quality of the culverts in town.
“It’s just embarrassing… it was the anniversary weekend,” Hoagland said of the break. “I just want to be able to say to people that ‘look, it is serious thing, it’s unfortunate and this is what we are doing to fix it.’”