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Raw sewage spills into San Mateo park

In San Mateo's Laurelwood Park crews are trying to stop a leak that resulted in raw sewage being dumped into the creek.
There is a smelly and potentially hazardous situation at a San Mateo Park. There's raw sewage in the creek and people are being asked to stay away from the water. The city conducted tests, but didn't detect it at first.

Workers spent all of Friday pumping sewage out of the creek, but some people who live in the area say the problem had been going on for at least a few days and they don't think the city acted fast enough.

The first thing you'll probably notice walking through San Mateo's Laurelwood Park is the smell.

Park visitor Lindsay Speth said, "It smells kind of like old aquarium water."

Cyclist Chris Allen said, "I just made an assumption it was a dead animal, a dead deer or something."

Park visitor Susan Hansen said, "We just went a few hundred yards and the smell was so bad we had to turn around."

There's an explanation for that -- raw sewage has been leaking into the creek.

San Mateo Environmental Services Asst. Director Gary DeJesus said they first got calls about the unpleasant odor Wednesday. They tested the water, but found nothing, so the crews went back on Friday.

DeJesus said, "The crews did confirm that there was indeed in fact sewage surfacing there."

So was the first test done incorrectly? DeJesus replied, "I don't think so. The testing that we do is we test for ammonia and dissolved oxygen and different things and it's often hard to detect raw sewage because raw sewage is primarily made up of water."

He says there might not have been enough sewage in the creek to be detected initially. However, park visitors ABC7 News spoke with aren't convinced.

"It smelled really terrible for maybe the last month or so," said one park visitor.

"What if some kids were playing and they didn't wash their hands or drank it?" Hansen said.

Crews with the city's Department of Public Works have been posting signs all over the park, warning people to stay away from the water.

The broken pipe is located three-quarters of a mile away from the park, north of Highway 92 at Hillsdale Boulevard. Sewage drifted downstream.

Workers spent the afternoon working to contain the leak and divert the sewage back into the proper system. If all goes according to plan, the warning signs should be lifted next week.

It's unknown exactly how much waste got in the creek, but DeJesus says it shouldn't pose a health threat unless a person drinks it.
Related Topics:
news health spills sewage spill water pollution San Mateo
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