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Sewer district fined for spills

"The Washiingtom State Department of Ecology announced Dec. 21 it would fine Sewer District 5 $6,000 for recent sewage spills in Port Orchard.The fine accompanied a notice of violation for a 1,500-gallon spill on Mile Hill Drive Nov. 28 and an approximately 975,000-gallon spill discovered Nov. 20 in the woods behind the South Kitsap Mall.A Department of Fish and Wildlife inspection of Annapolis Creek following the Nov. 20 spill revealed some salmon had died, though Ralph Svrjcek, municipal compliance specialist for the Department of Ecology, said sewage spills tend to have a short-term effect on streams.Sewer District 5 General Manager Dick Fitzwater said Dec. 21 he had not yet had a chance to read the report faxed to him from the Department of Ecology, but he expected the sewer district would try to appeal the fine in some way.The fine didn't come as a total shock to the sewer district. The Department of Ecology came down and looked at the site. They warned me ahead of time that there would probably be a fine, but they didn't know how much until today, Fitzwater said.The Sewer District could appeal the whole fine or simply appeal to keep any money fined in Port Orchard for mitigation or other city projects. We don't want any more money to leave town, Fitzwater said.The 975,000-gallon spill stemmed from a line plugged with contractor's debris, Fitzwater said. An inflatable plug and a small bucket of grease were discovered in the pipe shortly after Sewer District 5 personnel discovered the overflowing manhole, but it came loose and flowed away Nov. 20.Crews recently recovered the plug and bucket at the treatment facility.Fitzwater said crews responded quickly once they learned of the spills, adding the Nov. 20 spill was not the fault of the sewer district. I think we did a pretty good job of taking care of the problem, he said.Svrjcek, too, affirmed the Sewer District's promptness. The sewer district responded quickly once the problems were detected, he said. Because this discharge was largely caused, we think, by contractors, local contractors need to contact sewer utilities when they lose construction materials. Sewer authorities are equipped to solve these things before there is a plug, he said. "

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