During September 1979, the breakdown of a waste treatment plant resulted in discharge of 1.5 X 107 m3 of primary- treated sewage into a tributary of South San Francisco Bay. Chemical and microbial changes occurred within the tributary as decomposition and nitrification depleted dissolved oxygen. Associated with anoxia were relatively high concentrations of particulate organic carbon, dissolved CO2, CH4, C2H4, NH4+, and fecal bacteria, and low phytoplankton biomass and photosynthetic oxygen production. South San Francisco Bay experienced only small changes in water quality, presumably because of its large volume and the assimilation of wastes that occurred within the tributary. Water quality improved rapidly in the tributary once normal tertiary treatment resumed. -Authors
Additional publication details
Chemistry and microbiology of a sewage spill in South San Francisco Bay.