Possible sewage leaked into Cayuga Lake after Cayuga Heights Wastewater Treatment Plant malfunction

About 1,000 gallons of a liquid that could contain sewage was released from the Cayuga Heights Wastewater Treatment Plant on Wednesday night after a valve malfunctioned, according to the Tompkins County Health Department.

The discharge was first observed late Wednesday night at the plant, located at 951 East Shore Drive, and was stopped by about 3:30 a.m. Thursday. The Health Department has urged people in the area who swim in Cayuga Lake or could be drinking untreated lake water to be aware of possible contamination.

The liquid was released from sludge digestors, large tanks where microorganisms break down solids in sewage. The liquid in the tank, called “supernatant,” can contain components of municipal sewage but is less concentrated than raw sewage. Bacteria and other contaminants may be present in the liquid, according to the Health Department.

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