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RAW SEWAGE RUINING RIVER, RESIDENTS SAY

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Residents near the lower Weber River say raw sewage dumped there two months ago has ruined the popular recreation sight and they want it removed.

"You can still smell it," said Steve Mark of Clearfield. "They (sewer district officials) said they cleaned it up . . . but there's still a lot of garbage here."About 75 million gallons of raw sewage was diverted into the river by the Central Weber Sewer District on May 9 and 10 while construction was under way on the plant.

Now the 300-foot channel is littered with garbage and there is a layer of black scummy residue underneath about eight inches of water across the channel. In some areas, there are globs of oil floating on the surface.

"I'd just like to see this cleaned up a little better," said Mark. "I have three kids who used to swim down here, but not any more."

Sewer district Manager Leon Poulsen said it was necessary to divert raw sewage into the river for two days to carry out necessary construction on the headworks, the facility where sewage enters the district plant in Slaterville for treatment.

The diversion was approved by state Division of Water Quality officials, and Poulsen has stressed the temporary diversion did not pose a public health threat.

Deldi Reyes, an environmental scientist in the enforcement section of the Denver office of the Environmental Protection Agency, said she has been contacted by a couple of Utah residents who reported the raw sewage discharge.

One of their main concerns, she said, was that the sewer district did not notify downstream residents and water users about the bypass.

"The bypass that occurred was approved by the state and was completely legal," Reyes said. "But when the EPA approves an unavoidable bypass of raw sewage, we require that the downstream users be notified in some fashion."

Gordon Champneys, sewer plant superintendent, said the district has not been required to notify people in the past but that it could be a possibility in the future.

He said he had hoped the concerns of area residents would have been taken care of June 30 when a crew of workers cleaned the channel, hauling away the bulk of the refuse that had not been washed downstream previously.

"When we were in there the last time, the water was high" and some areas were hard to reach, Champneys said. "We may be able to do some additional cleanup."