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Residents, officials react to sewage main break

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Aug 30 2011 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 30 2011 10:51:28 PM CDT

A sewage main break has been spilling sewage into the Schuylkill River for nearly 36 hours.

POTTSTOWN, Pa. -

A sewage main break has been spilling sewage into the Schuylkill River for nearly 36 hours.

Downstream in Pottstown, the river is the borough's main source of drinking water.

This same scenario happened in January 2008. A sewage pipe in Reading broke and the people in Pottstown we're given the heads up.

The Schuylkill River from a distance in Pottstown looks fine, but what starts upstream ends up downstream. And raw sewage has been pouring into the river in Reading since Monday.

And people in Pottstown think it's gross.

"I think I'll be drinking bottled water for awhile," said Mason Craig, "It makes sense to me."

Mason Craig lives in Pottstown. His friend Ellie Brown has well water on her farm.
"I'm not too concerned, but I am for the people here," said Ellie Brown, "I hope that it gets straighten out."

The borough manager in Pottstown, Jason Bobst said so far tests of the water have come back negative for sewage.

"I think the speed of the river is working to our advantage," said Bobst, "It's passing the intake a lot quicker than a low river with not as much movement."

He added the water treatment plant is pre-treating the water with chlorine.

"The staff is going to monitor it around the clock and if we see an issue we'll put out a boil water notice," said Bobst, "If we have to shut the plant down and work off reserves we'll do that. But right now trust the fact that we're monitoring the situation."

In Reading crews are working on the break and officials said sewage will continue to spill into the river for as long as the repair takes.

When the same main ruptured in 2008, it took 2 days to fix and millions of gallons of sewage poured into the river.

Crews hope to have the repair done soon, but cleanup around the main might take a few more days.

"Obviously, you have some pretty nasty stuff laying on the ground that will all be cleaned up," said Reading Public Works Director Charles Jones.

The public works director said crews are shooting for the repair and to activate the pipe again by 10 to 11 o'clock Tuesday night.