Rain causes overflows at pump stations

Jul. 02, 2013 @ 04:37 PM

Three city pumping stations experienced significant overflows from recent rainfall, causing untreated sewage to run into Tar Pamlico River Basin tributaries.

The Henderson Water Reclamation Facility released statements on Tuesday detailing a total of almost 20,000 gallons of sewage overflow that ran into the Sandy and Redbud creeks, taking place from about 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., Monday.

Heavy rain on Monday morning came between 8:15 and 8:35, dropping about one-quarter inch on top of one-tenth of an inch that fell earlier. According to the National Weather Service, rainfall through 10 a.m. totaled nearly half an inch.

Tom Spain, Henderson’s water reclamation facility director, said the heavy rainfall provided both the cause and simultaneously most of the cure of sewer overflow problems.

“It was the big rain we had that caused it,” Spain said. “I think it was one of the worst rains since the hurricane.”

Spain said that he doubts the sewer overflow wrought any environmental damage to the Tar Pamlico River Basin. There was no sighting of any fish killed and no known damage effects.

This is primarily because of how the inundation and the action of the creeks flowing work together as a natural version of wastewater treatment, according to Spain.

“First, it is diluted a tremendous amount,” Spain said. “It is not nearly the same thing as straight, raw sewage. Secondly, a stream is a treatment process in its own right.”

He added that bacteria and other stream effects work to break down the relatively small amount of sewage into neutral components, and that he estimated the overflow contained no more than 20 percent actual sewage matter.

According to Spain, the regional office of the Division of Water Quality in Raleigh received a rush of calls about sewer overflows in the Piedmont area.

Spain made a detailed report to the state water quality officials, and a state monitor will check on streams and tributaries if a determination is made that a followup on reports is needed.

Henderson’s Sandy Creek pump station at Rowland’s Pond, 482 Rock Mill Road, had a 10,800-gallon overflow of the untreated wastewater from about 10:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

The Martin’s Creek sewage pumping station at 1416 Rock Mill Road overflowed 3,900 gallons from 9:50 a.m. to noon. Both of the Rock Mill Road stations overflowed into Sandy Creek.

The Redbud Sewage pump station spilled 4,725 gallons of untreated wastewater from 11:10 a.m. to 1:25 p.m., causing a bypass that entered Redbud Creek.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.