Nearly 2.5M gallons of untreated wastewater spills into Smith Creek

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CFPUA
CFPUA (Photo: Hannah Patrick/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says millions of untreated wastewater spilled into a Wilmington creek following a ruptured sewer force main earlier this week.

CFPUA crews responded to and stopped a sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) that happened Tuesday morning through Thursday morning at CFPUA’s Pump Station Number 10 (PS 10) near Smith Creek. The SSO was caused by a ruptured sewer force main.

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CFPUA says crews and contractors worked around the clock throughout the event were able to capture approximately 500,000 gallons of untreated wastewater from the SSO using vacuum trucks and other methods, returning that wastewater to the collections system. Approximately 2.44 million gallons of untreated wastewater reached entered nearby Smith Creek.

CFPUA Environmental Management staff members have conducted and continue to do water quality testing at various locations at and around the site.

Results from Thursday showed elevated levels of bacteria in Smith Creek adjacent to PS 10 and the bridges over Smith Creek at 23rd Street and Castle Hayne Road, as well as in Burnt Mill Creek at Archie Blue Park.

This incident is under further investigation by CFPUA and has been reported to the North Carolina Division of Water Quality.

To stop the SSO, crews installed approximately 500 feet of temporary pipe to divert the flow of untreated wastewater from the ruptured force into a new force main.

The temporary bypass is allowing crews to assess damage to the ruptured force main and make repairs, which were still underway Friday afternoon. Contractors are stationed at the site to monitor the bypass.

CFPUA says the force main that ruptured was slated for decommissioning in June 2020 when work is scheduled to be complete on an upgraded replacement for PS 10, which is under construction. The bypass installed to stop the SSO is diverting wastewater into a new 30-inch force main that is part of the replacement PS 10 project.