ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Officials are investigating what caused sewage water to overflow from a South Valley treatment plant and into the Rio Grande Wednesday night.
Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority spokesperson David Morris said the sewage started seeping from tanks around 7:30 p.m.
Officials said power to several pumps went out causing sewage water to back up and then overflow.
The water had only made it through one phase of treatment, which meant it was filled with dangerous bacteria.
"Obviously there would be a great variety, but it would include things like E. coli," Morris said.
The contaminated water gushed onto roads on the plant's property. Crews made dirt-filled dams and stopped most of the water. However, thousands of gallons flowed into a drain channel and from there to the river.
"We estimate about 3,000 to 5,000 gallons did make it into that riverside drain," Morris said.
Morris said officials are pointing to power outages as the possible problem.
They believe water from the recent rains may have damaged some equipment causing the power failures.
Ironically, officials said the recent rains will help minimize the dangers the sewage water could cause.
"There is so much water in the river right now that we would anticipated there would be a pretty large dilution." Morris said. "We don't anticipate it would have a very big environmental impact."
As soon as the spill was under control the Water Utility Authority notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Isleta Pueblo, the state Environment Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Officials said this is the first time they've had a spill like this in more than 25 years.
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