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Treatment Plant Back Online After Dumping Sewage Into Howard Co. River

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With the power out, sewage had nowhere else to go except the Little Patuxent River.
Elliott Francis
With the power out, sewage had nowhere else to go except the Little Patuxent River.

In Howard County, Md., a water treatment plant is back online after a power outage caused sewage to spill into a nearby river.

The Water Reclamation Plant sits on the banks of the Little Patuxent River. Last night, Hurricane Sandy downed electric lines, cutting power to the plant. Steve Gerwin, Howard County's bureau chief of utilities explains what happened.

"This one's the aerial line, you can see where it's down. That's the failure right there," said Gerwin. "So when it goes down, a circuit breaker opens, and the plant needs power to treat waste water. Once that occurs the only place the waste water can go is in the river."

About two million gallons an hour of sewage poured into the river here.

BGE restored power alittle before 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, but health officials are keeping a close eye on bacterial levels in the water.

"It was so diluted with rain water, we do not believe there was any health risk, but any time we're offline, it's a major concern," says County Executive Ken Ulman.

Ulman insists, the public drinking water is safe.

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