The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality last week fined Oregon City for a sewage overflow June 14 at the 11519 Parrish Road pump station.

A pump-station employee, who has since been disciplined, didn’t return the pump station into automatic mode, nor did he enable the city’s alarm system when he left work.

Public Works Department personnel responded to The resulting system back-up and alarm failure soon after he eventual overflow and advised the Oregon Emergency Response System of the approximately 120,000-gallon sewage spill and its potential impact to people and wildlife. Oregon City’s subsequent monitoring showed the environmental impacts to the affected watershed dissipated naturally over a brief period of time.

When determining the penalty amount, DEQ officials said they considered the city’s efforts to minimize the violation’s impacts by cleaning up affected property, conducting water-quality sampling to monitor the impacted creek, notifying local residents of the spill and taking steps to prevent similar incidents from occurring again.

Martin Montalvo, Oregon City Public Works operations supervisor, said these steps included adding secondary redundancy alarm systems that are solar powered and have battery backup.

Oregon City has until Tuesday, Aug. 19, to pay or appeal the penalty. However, Montalvo will try to reduce the fine amount by proposing an environmental enhancement project such as invasive species removal or planting native species in the area. Through its “Supplemental Environmental Project” program, DEQ may accept the proposal by Oregon City to reduce the fine.

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