The State

More than 600 million gallons of sewage were pumped into the scenic Russian River to empty brimming holding tanks in Santa Rosa. Officials said it would be at least nine days before the 22-mile stretch of the river, from Santa Rosa to the Pacific, is clean again. Ben Kor of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board said that about 3,000 riverside residents would have to boil water from their wells or use trucked-in water until then. The treated sewage has been building in the city's holding ponds since last summer. Kor said board engineers believe city officials failed to release enough of the sewage into farmlands during the summer and counted on heavy winter rains to wash it away. After meetings between city officials, the water quality board, and county and state health agencies, the dumping was permitted, rather than risking a worse spill during the upcoming tourist season, Kor said. He said Santa Rosa may face stiff penalties for allowing the sewage to build.

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