Heavy rain causes sewage overflow from Sweet Home

By Ethan Hoagland
Of The New Era/Lebanon Local

Sweet Home Public Works dealt with back to back sewage overflows in the last week. The first spilled into Ames Creek and the South Santiam river early in the morning on Sunday, Dec. 3. Another spill occurred on Sunday, Dec. 10. In addition to the rain, officials said the wet ground contributed to the overflows.

The city posted signs warning residents to avoid water in Ames Creek and the South Santiam River due to potentially higher levels of bacteria.

Sweet Home’s aging wastewater treatment plant has long been in the crosshairs of Public Works and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Per reporting done by The New Era, the city entered an agreement with the DEQ in 2001 to address system overflows and discharge of raw sewage into Ames Creek.

Efforts to upgrade the wastewater treatment are well underway. City Manager Kelcey Young told The New Era in March, 2023 that the upgraded wastewater treatment plant would cost about $60 million.

A web page listing the Sweet Home city council’s goals shows the city is still working to obtain funding for the new wastewater treatment plant, and staff have applied for a local government grant.

You can read an update on the wastewater treatment plant upgrade project in this edition of the paper.