Over the weekend, Durham faced a significant environmental incident as a large tree fell, causing damage to a sewer line and triggering a sewage overflow of nearly half a million gallons. The incident occurred at 1519 Pinecrest Road, just south of Duke University, with a manhole reporting sewage overflow around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Approximately 458,000 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled into an unnamed tributary of Sandy Creek before crews successfully halted the overflow by 6:10 p.m. The response team took prompt action, plugging the sewer main, installing a bypass pump, damming the creek downstream, and pumping the untreated wastewater back into the sewer system.
In compliance with state regulations, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Resources was promptly informed of the sewage spill. As of Monday, cleanup efforts were still underway in Durham, marking the city’s most significant sewage spill in over a year.
Residents in the vicinity, like Richard Kohn, witnessed the aftermath and expressed concerns about potential public health implications. City workers were actively addressing the situation, spraying clean water into the affected tributary of Sandy Creek as part of the remediation process.
The annual Sanitary Sewer System Report for Durham indicates that this recent spill surpasses the cumulative volume of all other overflows in the past year. While characterized as a rare occurrence, the city assured CBS 17 that investigations and testing have revealed no environmental damage.
Despite the challenges posed by the spill, residents commended the swift response of city crews, who worked tirelessly through the night on a Saturday to contain and address the situation. The flushing process to return the stream to normal conditions is ongoing, emphasizing the commitment to resolving this environmental incident thoroughly.