Heavy rain causes sewer to overflow into Willamette River

PORTLAND, Ore. - Monday's heavy rainstorm caused Portland's combined sewer system to overflow into the Willamette River.

City officials said the combined sewage overflowed through an outfall pipe near Morrison Bridge on the east bank of the river for 12 minutes.

For the next 48 hours, the public should avoid contact with the river from the Morrison Bridge downstream to the Willamette's confluence with the Columbia River near Kelley Point Park.

Environmental services said it is especially important to avoid recreational activities, such as jet skiing or swimming, during which water could be swallowed. Combined sewer overflow are contaminated with bacteria from untreated sewage.

People who fish during the next two days should wash their hands following contact with river water, and those who choose to eat that fish should cook it thoroughly to kill bacteria.

Portland's combined sewer system carries sewage and stormwater runoff in the same pipes. During very heavy rainstorms, the increased stormwater runoff can cause combined sewers to overflow into the Willamette River.