Blocked pipe sends raw sewage flowing into Auburn Ravine Creek

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A plugged line sent raw sewage flowing into fragile Auburn Ravine Creek Tuesday. A city of Auburn Public Works Department estimate calculated 90 gallons flowed into the creek. But a Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead spokesman said his group believes the amount of the spill to be much more. Jack Sanchez, founder of the fish and river preservation group, said a member of his organization reported the spill to Placer County environmental health officials Monday evening but no action was taken. SARSAS had received two reports about a terrible stench by then, he said. “They sent someone after dark and couldn’t find anything,” Sanchez said. “It ran all night. That’s a tremendous amount of sewage.” Bernie Schroeder, Auburn Public Works engineering division manager, said the city was called out at about 11 a.m. Tuesday and discovered a manhole overflowing at the back of Pace Auto Sales. The sewage was flowing from the manhole over the bank into the creek at a rate of about three gallons a minute, Schroeder said. City employees witnessed about 30 minutes of overflow caused by the blockage, she said. Normal flows in the pipe were restored after rags were removed, Schroeder added. The section of the ravine is an exposed area covered in blackberry bushes next to a strip of businesses along the 300-block of Grass Valley Highway in Auburn. Lisa Kodl, of Auburn Bike Works, 350 Grass Valley Highway, said the sewage stench was strong in the morning but eventually cleared out. Sanchez said steelhead runs are going to be impacted by a spill that highlights the fragile nature of a stream running through the city. “It’s terrible that they can’t stop polluting the Auburn Ravine,” he said.