DIA Releases 1M Gallons Of Sewage, Storm Water

Agencies Notified As Downstream Water Samples Taken

Denver International Airport blamed a mechanical failure at its airport lift station for the release of up to 1 million gallons of contaminated water.

The water flows into Third Creek, which flows into an irrigation canal that eventually feeds into Barr Lake.

"After the spill was discovered Wednesday morning, DIA notified the appropriate federal, state and local environmental and health agencies; as well as a downstream farmer, Adams County, and the Farmers Reservoir Irrigation Co., owner of the canal," read a statement from DIA.

Airport workers were conducting downstream water sampling and the airport contacted the state health department, as well as the Tri-County Health Department and officials at Barr Lake State Park.

"We looked at the water in the creek; we saw it was clear, we could still see minnows and we did not have any odor issues," said Tom Butts, director of environmental health at Tri-County Health Department. "Those were the three quick and easy things to check for."

The airport and environmental agencies are working to determine the severity of the spill. Butts said test results from samples taken Wednesday should be available Thursday.

The airport is conducting downstream water sampling, and said it is working with the appropriate agencies to ensure that public health is not affected. As a precaution, DIA is working with Colorado Health Department, the Tri-County Health Department, and Barr Lake officials to notify the public of potential health risks.

Tri-County Health said everyone downstream who uses water from the creek has been notified.

A DIA spokesman said the pump stopped working about 7 p.m. Tuesday, but workers did not realize it was not working until about 7 a.m. Wednesday.

"We do have backup alarms to notify the airport when this is happening," said Jeff Green, DIA spokesman. "We have every indication that that alarm worked properly, but it went unnoticed. We are investigating how that happened."

Green said the alarm sounds in the maintenance facility which is manned 24 hours a day.

"It is very difficult to prevent human error," said Green. "But we are already putting changes in place to ensure this type of error does not happen again."

Anyone with questions should contact Tri-County Health at 303-220-9200.

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