SITKA, Alaska — Sitka workers repaired a sewage pump that caused wastewater to be diverted into the Thomsen Harbor.

City crews worked 36 hours straight from Friday into Saturday to repair the pump, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported .

The workers had to initially divert the untreated sewage into the harbor, but were able to put it back on its normal course to the Japonski Island treatment plant with a temporary repair.

City Environmental Superintendent Shilo Williams said it was necessary to put the water into the harbor.

“It was the only thing we could do,” Williams said. “If we didn’t, sewage would back up into homes and businesses.”

Williams said the incident was one of the most catastrophic events she has dealt with in her 15-year wastewater career.

“It’s a perfect storm of events that occurred,” Williams said. “When it went, it went quick.”

Officials believe the most likely cause of the breakdown was the accumulation of gravel or grit, which could have worn down the bottom of the pump.

The city issued a public notice urging residents to limit use of water after the break. The cooperation by residents was helpful, Williams said.

Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel,