Vandals blamed for sewer spill
Vandals are being blamed for a sewer spill on March 9.
According to a City of Thomasville press release, an estimated 16,300 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled into a South Hamby Creek tributary in the Yadkin/ Pee Dee River Basin after vandals blocked a sewer line with energy drink bottles and large rocks.
City Services Director Morgan Huffman said crews needed more than a day to clear the blockage at a manhole adjacent to Interstate 85 and 1122 Randolph St.
"We worked quite awhile on that one," Huffman said.
City crews found that the line was blocked with several dozen "5-hour Energy" drink bottles and rip rap stone placed in the area to prevent erosion from heavy drainage. Huffman said the blockage also contained non-biodegradable materials like brown paper towels that shouldn't be discarded through the sewer system.
"[Vandals] apparently took the cover off and put a few pieces of rip rap down in the manhole, which then washed into the line," said Huffman. "The bottles thrown in there compacted behind that and you get a lot of people who unfortunately put a lot of stuff like paper towels in the system. They are not intended to be put in the system because they stay whole and will clog it right up."
Huffman said the spill, the third reported by the city this month, was not caused by any failures in the infrastructure itself.
"There was no pumping system involved," Huffman said. "It was all a gravity system and it was simply a matter of items that should not have been placed into the system were in there causing a blockage and a backup. There was no failure of the pipe or anything like that."
The Department of Emergency Management and the Division of Water Quality were notified of the event and are reviewing the matter. House Bill 1160, enacted in by the General Assembly in July, 1999, requires all municipalities, animal operations, industries, and others operating waste handling systems issues news releases when a waste spill of 1,000 gallons or more reach surface waters.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.