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Modesto Releasing Partially Treated Wastewater Into San Joaquin River


Modesto has started releasing wastewater that has not been disinfected into the San Joaquin River. The recent floods are to blame.

Modesto’s sewer system was hard hit by the flooded Tuolumne River and a broken sewer trunk along its banks.

Thirty million gallons of river water poured into the sewer system quickly filling sewer ponds until repairs could be made.

Modesto’s Utilities Director Larry Parlin says releasing treated wastewater that hasn’t been disinfected is necessary to prevent pond levee failure and flooding.

He says high flows in the San Joaquin River will dilute those discharges.

“As long as people aren’t drinking that water which they shouldn’t be drinking, or contacting flood water anytime, but you’d want to be concerned about the bacteria that could make some people sick," says Parlin. "It’s not likely that would happen but it definitely could happen.”

He also says because of ongoing releases from Don Pedro reservoir, the water will remain high and continued discharges could last for weeks.


 modestosan joaquin river

Rich Ibarra

Contributing Central Valley/Foothills Reporter

As the Central Valley correspondent, Rich Ibarra covers San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties, along with the foothill areas including Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. He covers politics, the economy and issues affecting the region.   Read Full Bio 

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