Keswick Dam oil leak

Mar 20, 2014 7:58 PM

A major dam in Shasta County is in hot water for a problem that keeps on happening.

The Keswick Dam feeds directly into the Sacramento River -- it also feeds oil.

"This particular situation was caused by a faulty switch."

Back in December, the Central Valley Water Board received an anonymous tip from a confidential informant, that oil is leaking below the Keswick Dam.

So the board went to work and issued a notice of violation to the Bureau of Reclamation -- the agency that controls Keswick Dam -- and didn't report the leak.

"It is a problem, and it is something we are going to bring up with the agency."

The notice asks the Bureau to draft a plan on how to properly discharge oil to the Sacramento River, and wants a detailed review on how the plant operates.


"We've requested information characterizing the water in those sumps; so what pollutants are contained in that water, what are the concentrations of those pollutants."

The ratio of wastewater to surface water -- in other words -- the level of chemicals making their way into the Sacramento River, is currently unknown and not regulated under Waste Discharge Requirements.

"Once we get the data...we can determine if it's a threat for the future."

In an email, the Bureau's public affairs specialist issued a statement, saying her agency takes the situation seriously and has already taken the steps necessary to stop another leak from occurring.

"The reality is, given the equipment they currently have, we don't have much confidence that an oil leak won't happen again."

Snyder says the leak appears to be minor, but over time, can become a threat.

"..we don't see any signs of detrimental impact to wildlife..."

The Bureau of Reclamation has until April 18th to respond to the violation.


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