by BRAD ROLLINS
VIDEO: San Marcos City Manager JIM NUSE talks about the spill that sent an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into the upper San Marcos River the evening of May 29.
12:31 p.m. THURSDAY, MAY 30: Both southbound lanes of C.M. Allen Parkway at University Drive are closed today as contractors patch up a wastewater system failure that caused as many as 15,000 gallons of untreated sewage to spill into the San Marcos River on Wednesday.
A collapsed service line caused a manhole at University Drive and C.M. Allen Parkway to clog around 6 p.m. Wednesday, causing a wastewater backup and spill on Sessom Drive. Untreated wastewater flowed into the river for two hours until crews could locate the blockage and stop the spill, city spokesperson Melissa Millecam said in a statement issued early this afternoon.
City water quality technicians took samples Wednesday evening at four locations downstream of the spill to test for high levels of bacteria but the results are not expected until tomorrow. Nevertheless, city health officials say the sewage was diluted enough by the rain-swollen river that there was no reason to close part of the river downstream of the spill, Millecam said.
Workers will complete a temporary fix to the collapsed wastewater line today and expect to reopen C.M. Allen tomorrow. The southbound lanes will be closed again early next week when workers go in to fix the problem permanently, Millecam said.
For information, call the city’s Engineering and Capital Improvements department at 512-393-8130.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 29: City workers have contained a spill that sent diluted but otherwise untreated sewage streaming, then pouring, into the San Marcos River for about two hours this evening.
San Marcos City Manager Jim Nuse said a blockage in a sewer main in the C.M. Allen and University Drive areas caused untreated wastewater, mixed with rainwater, to seep out of a manhole and run downhill into the river. Water appeared to enter the river adjacent to the Aquarena Springs bridge, about four-tenths of a mile from the location of a wastewater blockage.
Nuse said city staff currently thinks 10,000 to 15,000 gallons of untreated effluent entered the river, an estimate they have reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
“It didn’t seem to be really highly concentrated but, regardless, any effluent into the river is something that is not good and that we want to get resolved as quickly as possible,” Nuse said.
Nuse said city workers — including utility crews, city engineers, inspectors, firefighters and police — had temporarily fixed the problem and would return tomorrow to permanently remove the blockage.
”It’s been buttoned up and we’re going home,” Nuse said shortly before 10 p.m.
The spill was noticed at about 6:25 p.m. Wednesday, San Marcos Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Bell said. Leakage into the river — initially in very small amounts — was contained in less than two hours using pumps, sandbags and absorbent buoys, Bell said.
“I don’t know what the longterm [outlook] is, but it’s stopped. The priority of this whole operation has been to stop the flow to the river and that has been done,” Bell said.
Earlier in the evening, at about 8:20 p.m., a reporter witnessed smelly, cloudy water gushing into the river through a stormwater channel just north of the Aquarena Springs bridge and south of Burleson’s Dam, the point where Spring Lake becomes the San Marcos River. The befouled water ran level with the curb at some places along Aquarena and Sessom and was calf-deep in the street as the reporter crossed Sessom Drive between Sewell Park and the main part of Texas State University’s campus.Email | Print