Folsom's sewer mystery: Is there room in pipes for growth?

In a hearing next week the regional board may stop further development in Folsom, Calif., by banning new sewer connections until there is adequate capacity in the system. This anticipated measure follows on the heels of a series of problems over the last year.

June 7, 2001—In a hearing next week the regional board may stop further development in Folsom, Calif., by banning new sewer connections until there is adequate capacity in the system. This anticipated measure follows on the heels of a series of problems over the last year.

At least five significant sewage spills were released into the nearby American River since 1995. In January 2000, the water board levied a $700,000 fine against the city for spilling 700,000 gallons of sewage.

Without seeking the necessary approvals or following various regulations, the city of Folsom dug a plastic-lined pit next to a park, according to the state agency that is supposed to protect the public from such overflows. The pit served as a temporarily holding pit for raw sewage to prevent another system overflow.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board has set an informational hearing for June 14. The purpose of the hearing is to try and determine if the overflow pit is appropriate and if the city actually has adequate sewer capacity to handle developments it has already approved. Outside engineers have determined that flows from a new subdivision will exceed capacity by this fall. This opinion contradicts Folsom, which says it has adequate capacity to handle growth.

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