What Really Caused the Wastewater Leak at DIA

March 19 2010, 10:26 AM

Earlier this week, we noted that roughly one million gallons of contaminated water flowed out of Denver International Airport, toward farm fields and a recreational lake. Initial reports blamed a mechanical blunder, but officials now know a lot more about what went down. As DIA spokesman Jeff Green admits to 9News, this "an embarrassing situation." As raw sewage spewed from a failed pump at a lift station, an alarm should have alerted workers to the problem. The alarm was working, Green says. But, someone turned off the sound. "We're investigating how that could have happened, but again also putting in procedures to make sure it doesn't happen again," Green assures. A message about the problem also popped up on a computer screen, which sits in a room full of computers that isn't manned around the clock. Green claims the sewage spill was much smaller than first thought. Engineers now estimate 330,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled from the lift station, not one million. The untreated wastewater and industrial sewage flowed into creeks and canals that head toward Barr Lake fishery and bird sanctuary, home to catfish, bass, rainbow trout, walleye, bluegill, wiper, tiger muskie, and other fish species, as well as more than 350 types of birds, including the bald eagle, according to The Denver Post. Workers have created dams to prevent the spill from reaching the lake and continue to gauge whether it's an environmental threat.