Haystack Rock

More than 26,000 gallons of sewage spilled onto Cannon Beach in late July.

CANNON BEACH — Dump trucks carried 28 loads of sand off of Cannon Beach in late July after a sewage overflow.

The city said it was notified of a wastewater pump station failure on the morning of July 24 that led to more than 26,000 gallons of sewage spilling onto the beach at the end of Nelchena Street.

While the city worked to correct the problem, it was unclear there was a sewage overflow until the afternoon.

A report by Karen La Bonte, the city’s public works director, said she received a phone call from a resident at around 4 p.m. informing her that he noticed water coming from the southernmost outfall during his walk on the beach that morning. When public works staff went back out to inspect the area, they found specks of toilet paper.

The city notified the state Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon State Parks.

Barricades and caution tape were placed around the area, along with sandwich boards with warning signs. Signs on the beach will remain for several more weeks.

The city’s excavation contractor brought four dump trucks and removed 28 loads of sand from the beach. The sand was taken to an area east of U.S. Highway 101.

The city said the spill did not reach the ocean and that the cleanup was completed before high tide.

Notifications regarding the incident were sent the evening of July 24 to the City Council, city attorney, nearby hotels, the Ecola Creek Watershed Council and Surfrider Foundation and committees that partner with the city on environmental projects.

La Bonte’s report said the city’s electrical contractor concluded that the valves on two of the wastewater pump stations were adjusted incorrectly. The incorrect valves caused the pressure to increase, which damaged the pump stations. Other malfunctions were also exposed by the incident.

“We will be reviewing our training procedures for new employees starting to do routine maintenance in our pump stations, in addition to adding signage that make certain procedures more clear,” La Bonte said in the report.

Public works will also reexamine routine maintenance intervals.

In her report, La Bonte said another contributing factor was that the wastewater department has been short-staffed for some time.

“Team members from other departments and agencies have stepped up to assist the wastewater team whenever possible,” she said. “This has resulted in a level of inconsistencies in who was performing various operations.”

She said there also needs to be improvements to the utility systems, but funding will require adjustments to utility rates.

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