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Potentially 29,000 gallons of wastewater discharged into Omaha's Zorinsky Lake

Potentially 29,000 gallons of wastewater discharged into Omaha's Zorinsky Lake

Electric scooters and electric bicycles are now allowed on Omaha's trail system as part of an update to the city's parks rules. The trails are now open 24 hours a day.

A sewer leak sent anywhere from 7,500 to 29,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into Zorinsky Lake this week.

The leak was found by a passerby beneath the South 168th Street bridge about 3 p.m. Tuesday, but because of the complexities of the leak and its challenging location, the discharge wasn’t contained until 2:25 p.m. Wednesday, according to a press release from the Omaha Public Works Department. The observed leak was between 5 and 20 gallons per minute.

The location of the leak was in a highly visible spot beneath the bridge, but officials are unsure when the leak began, said Jim Theiler, Omaha’s assistant director for environmental services in the Public Works Department.

Still, Theiler said, the amount of pollutants that entered the lake is very small compared to the total amount of water in Zorinsky Lake, located in west Omaha.

“So it’s going to be diluted,” Theiler said. “Normally a lake will have bacteria just from the presence of geese and other animals.”

The results of a bacteria test are expected to be known Thursday.

As crews work on a permanent repair, the section of the Zorinsky Lake Trail that runs beneath the bridge will be closed. It is expected to reopen next Tuesday.

Trail users east of the bridge can use the trail and walkway on the east side of 168th Street to loop around the lake. Trail users on the west side of 168th Street will be unable to loop around the west side of the lake during the repair work.

The Omaha Public Works Department said Wednesday that normal permitted activities at Zorinsky Lake like boating and kayaking are not impacted by the leak.

The department advises personal discretion during recreational use of the lake as a precautionary measure until water quality tests results are received.

It is also recommended that pets not be allowed in the water.

Zorinsky Trail Closure

A section of the Zorinsky Lake Trail will be temporarily closed beginning Wednesday through Tuesday.


jwade@owh.com, 402-444-1067

Omaha World-Herald: Afternoon Update

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Jessica Wade covers breaking news, crime and the Omaha zoo. Follow her on Twitter @Jess_Wade_OWH. Phone: 402-444-1067

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