Public safety responds when sewage spill hits city’s busiest intersection
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: January 23, 2013
City crews spent about three hours Saturday cleaning up a sewage spill after a manhole in the city’s busiest intersection overflowed.
The January 19 incident was reported at approximately 1:25 p.m., according to Santa Paula Fire Captain Steve Lazenby, when Station 81 “was advised that there was water running out of a manhole cover in the intersection” of 10th Street and East Harvard Boulevard.
Lazenby said upon arrival firefighters found a steady flow of water running out of the access hole of the manhole cover, wetting the intersection. In addition, a small amount of water was running in the gutter south of Harvard Boulevard past the westbound onramp to Highway 126.
Public Works was notified by Lazenby, who learned Rob Howard of the department was already on his way. Howard reported Ventura Regional Sanitation District crews had been advised and would be responding.
Santa Paula Police also arrived on the scene and started traffic control and called in Citizens Patrol to help divert traffic around the leak. “City Yard was on the scene pretty quick,” said SPPD Sgt. Jimmy Fogata, and “Citizens Patrol came out and ended up doing traffic control.”
Lazenby said a “bobtail load of sand was offloaded to form a dam around the leak, and a sandbag barricade was put in place” to prevent the flow of sewage into the storm drains. Eventually all southbound 10th Street traffic was diverted westbound onto Harvard and the east and westbound Harvard Boulevard traffic was diverted off of Harvard at Ojai Street to the east and onto Mill Street to the west. The sand dam was effective in confining the sewage.
Lazenby said Santa Paula Fire personnel were released from the scene at approximately 2:16 p.m. and the incident was left in the control of police and public works.
Various citizens had reported the sewage spill, which Fogata said was apparently due to an unspecified blockage that required a large vacuum truck to unclog.