Sewage flows onto Riverside Drive and into a storm drain Wednesday near the railroad underpass.

Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

Sewage flows onto Riverside Drive and into a storm drain Wednesday near the railroad underpass.

Crews work to contain sewage spill

By Brie Handgraaf

Staff Writer

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Approximately 30,000 gallons of diluted sewage seeped into the Tar River this weekend and city crews are working around the clock to ensure the environmental risk is contained.

Public Works Director Jonathan Boone said heavy rainfall over the weekend caused stormwater to flow into a manhole on Riverside Drive, causing the sewer to overflow.

“With some of the older lines, we have issues with inflow infiltration with stormwater getting into the sewer and exceeding the capacity of the sanitary sewer,” Boone said.

The high water level of the river prohibited the mess from getting cleaned up, and crews discovered on Wednesday that the manhole still was discharging sewage.

“At this point, we have vacuum trucks pumping and hauling the waste out of the manhole to avoid any additional overflow,” Boone said. “It is being discharged into a manhole on the north side of the Tar River, which is connected to a 42-inch out fall with extra capacity.”

Originally Boone had hoped Riverside Drive would be reopened Wednesday night, but the ongoing issue flushed that plan.

“We don’t know when we’ll be able to reopen Riverside Drive, but it won’t be until we see the flow decrease,” Boone said. “We’ll be working as long as we need to until this incident is completely resolved.”