Placerville Water Treatment Plant Exceeds Capacity; Begins Releasing Untreated Water into Hangtown Creek

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PLACERVILLE -- While flooding concerns will remain in place for much of the region due to the recent storm activity, all the run off has also brought an environmental concern.

The Placerville Water Treatment Plant has exceeded its capacity for the second time this year already.

The facility has begun releasing portions of untreated water back into Hangtown Creek.

"It's basically more water than we can handle," explained City Manager Cleve Morris on Thursday evening.

Normally, the facility processes a little more than a million gallons of water each day. But because of all the recent storms, the plant is now taking on about 8 million gallons per day, which has even caused the on-site emergency overflow basin to exceed its capacity. It's for that reason that the plant is forced to release water that has a small percentage of waste in it.

"A lot of it is storm water. And remember, that went up seven million gallons per day in storm water that's in there," said Morris. "So, there is storm water, but there is sewer water mixed in with it as it's coming down into our system."

The amount of waste that is in the water that is being pumped back into the adjacent Hangtown Creek is minimal, according to Morris. He also wants to assure the public that in no way is it affecting the drinking water supply for Placerville, and it's only being released now to protect a major break in the emergency basin.

"It's more the environmental concerns and wildlife concerns. Fish and wildlife, et cetera."

The Placerville facility experienced the same type of exposure last month, and their hope is with the storms starting to subside, so will the need to pump the untreated water back into Hangtown Creek.

"It's minimal, the environmental threat, but I won't say there's none," explained Morris. "There is a possibility, but are you ever going to be able to find it or measure it? Probably not because of the amount of flow that is going down that creek right now."

The next 24 to 48 hours will prove critical to the plant.

If the problem becomes more serious they may need to declare an emergency in order to bring in outside assistance to manage things.

But so far, that doesn't appear to be the case.