Salem dumps raw sewage into Willamette River during storm

The release was legal under state law because 24-hour rain levels exceeded a predetermined threshold

A pipe opening into the Willamette River in downtown Portland (KOIN, file)
A pipe opening into the Willamette River in downtown Portland (KOIN, file)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – The city of Salem says it dumped nearly 20 million gallons of raw sewage into the Willamette River last week after heavy rains overwhelmed its sewer system.

The Statesman Journal reported Monday that the release was legal under state law because 24-hour rain levels exceeded a predetermined threshold.

City spokesman Mike Gotterba says the release late Thursday and early Friday prevented raw sewage from backing up into people’s homes.

City workers posted signs at both the Willamette River and Pringle Creek throughout the weekend warning the public to avoid the water.

The signs were removed Monday when tests showed normal bacteria levels.