A power outage led to a sewage spill into the Congaree River at the Columbia city treatment plant near Heathwood Hall Episcopal School Wednesday.
Columbia’s wastewater management division sent out a public warning of the spill at about 3 p.m., and at that time sewage was still spilling from the pipe, according to city sewage engineer Bill Davis. A few minutes later, the spill had been stopped.
Tuesday night’s heavy rain caused problems in an electrical control box that provided power to a pump in the line, which leads into the city sewage plant. The resulting backup at the pump eventually caused the spill. In the nearly 50 minutes needed to stop the spill, 6,250 gallons of sewage spilled from the pipe near the river, Davis said.
Later, city workers clearing the area discovered the sewage had settled into a dip between the pipe and the river, so the sewage didn’t make it to the river, Davis said.
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The spill was downstream from the major public river access points in Columbia, across from the Cayce boat landing and about 18 miles upstream of Congaree National Park.