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San Diego County Digest

San Diego

November 03, 1987

Vandalism is suspected to have caused a sewage spill that began Saturday morning and forced about 100,000 gallons of untreated waste from manholes into residential streets in Southeast San Diego, said Jim Phillips, a city Water Utilities Department supervisor.

The spill was stopped at 5:30 p.m. Sunday after a 1,500-foot-long snake was used to clear 321 feet of a blocked sewer line running down Elwood Avenue.

On Monday, two cleanup crews were sent to Elwood and Geneva avenues in Encanto, where the spill was first reported, to hose down the neighborhood and remove the remaining rocks and debris from the sewer line, Phillips said. The cleanup was completed Monday afternoon.

"We suspect vandalism and are going to inspect manholes leading into this area," Phillips said.

If it is determined that manhole covers were removed and rocks were put into the sewer system, the manholes will be "strapped and sealed" to render them "vandal-proof," he said.

"Metal straps with locking devices on them will be put on the covers and then these will be sealed with concrete so they can't be broken into," Phillips said.

The spill was initially stopped early Sunday morning. Later, about 6 a.m., a second stretch of the sewer line, a block away from the first stoppage, became plugged. The debris flowed south on Elwood Avenue, then west to Hilltop Drive and into a storm drain that runs along 51st Street. The drain runs into Encanto Creek, south of Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and westward toward San Diego Bay, near 32nd Street and Harbor Drive.

County health officials have not tested the water near 32nd Street because it is under Navy jurisdiction but have advised the Navy that the sewage leak may have affected the water quality, said Yvonne Rehg, a city spokeswoman.

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