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Ashland treats all of its sewage

Since you asked

I was jogging along the bike path near Bear Creek in Medford after the heavy rain and I smelled a strong odor of raw sewage. Does Ashland still dump raw sewage into Bear Creek when the treatment plant is at capacity?

' Eric N., Medford

Ashland's wastewater treatment plant was recently upgraded and no longer runs at maximum capacity, said Andy Ullrich, a compliance engineer with Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality office in Medford. As a result, Ashland treats all of its sewage, even during heavy storms. Sewage from Talent and Phoenix is treated through the regional Bear Creek Valley Sanitary Authority system, so they wouldn't create the problem either.

Other sources could create the odor you encountered, Eric. These include failed septic systems and runoff from animal feed lots or animal pens.

Another possibility is sanitary sewer lines that have been cross-connected to storm drains. These are more likely in older sections of town. Cities have worked to correct the problem as it arises. When they are discovered they are fixed quickly, Ullrich said.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to