By MIKE MORRIS
Sewage leaked into Tulloch Reservoir for about two hours Saturday evening, causing public health officials to temporarily close the area behind Lake Tulloch Resort to swimmers.
A Calaveras County Water District report says less than 100 gallons of sewage entered the lake near the O'Byrnes Ferry Road resort.
Wood pieces, large rocks and trash clogging a downstream manhole caused sewage to back up into a "gravity collector line," forcing the liquid out of an upstream manhole.
The line was cleared and ground disinfected Saturday. Water samples were taken at the spill site, as well as up and downstream, to measure the spill's effect on the lake. Tulloch Reservoir was constructed in the 1950s and is about seven miles long and 2,000 feet wide. It has shoreline in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.
Once samples show the water is safe, the area will be reopened to swimmers.
CCWD officials said they anticipate that will happen today or tomorrow.
Yesterday, a sign reading "Health hazard. No swimming in this area until further notice" was propped up against a platform near the lake. Two signs were posted at the marina, while another was in the resort's bar.
Jolene Langley, a waitress at the resort's restaurant, said she noticed the signs Sunday. She lives on the lake and drives her boat to work daily.
"We made sure we kept everyone out of the water," she said.
The spillage occurred between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
There was no immediate threat to public health, CCWD's release states.
Sherry Porter, a front desk clerk at the resort, said the only people staying at the hotel are there for a retreat, and people typically don't want to swim in the lake at this time of the year.
The resort has a swimming pool.
"If (the lake) wasn't safe, there's no way we would let anyone in," Porter said.
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