UPDATE: 1.3 million gallons of untreated sewage were released in - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: 1.3 million gallons of untreated sewage were released into Elkhart River due to power outage

GOSHEN - An overflow at the Goshen Wastewater Treatment plant forced 1.3 million gallons of untreated sewage to be released into the Elkhart River this week. Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman says the power outage left the city without any other options.

Kauffman says that the city's treatment facility has a capacity of six million gallons. When power to the facility was knocked out for 12 hours on Tuesday after severe weather hit the area, Kauffman says both of the plant's feeds were brought to the point of overflowing, and that while they don't like to do it, the city's only option is to release the excess untreated sewage into the Elkhart River.

Kauffman says there are federal and state protocols for releases into bodies of water in emergency situations such as this one, and that Goshen's situation is not unique.

"The other thing that needs to be pointed out is the EPA and IDEM understand that there are going to be emergencies like this where sewage has to be released," he says.

While he is adamant that Goshen followed all protocols for releasing untreated sewage, Kauffman added that he would warn against people making full-body contact--especially swimming--with the Elkhart River at all times due to E.coli risk.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Really people shouldn't be going in the river anyway because of E-coli coming into town from farm fields and septic systems," says Kauffman.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            He says that Goshen's drinking water comes from deep wells, not the river, and was not affected by this release.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     "One thing residents don't have to be concerned about is drinking water, because most residents in this area get their drinking water from a well not the river," he says.  

Kauffman says a generator is an expense too great, calling it a "back up for the back up", and unlikely to be needed. He added it only takes about three days for the water to be safe for human contact again. Since 2011, the City of Goshen has kept about 85 million gallons of waste water out of the river. Citizens can get involved with maintaining the Elkhart River on a regular basis. Click here to see how you can keep the river clean as a resident, or volunteer. 

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