Rain, debris led to wastewater spills

City manager: aging system contributes to spills
Mar. 01, 2013 @ 09:26 AM

A series of wastewater spills this week provided another reminder of Thomasville's need to improve its infrastructure.

According to a press release, the City of Thomasville experienced three spills on Wednesday of an estimated 104,810 gallons of untreated wastewater and rainwater. City Manager Kelly Craver said heavy rains, a ruptured pipe and debris all were factors.

"Rain was the largest contributor to the spills," Craver said. "[The rain] had to approach two inches." 

East Davidson Pump Station experienced the first spill.  A discharge on Old Emmanuel Church lasting approximately five hours spilled an estimated 94,450 gallons into the South Hamby Creek. Craver said the spill was a result of a hydraulic overload and is an issue the city is planning to address through a pending infrastructure project.

"The East Davidson problem is a rehab problem," said Craver. "These are issues we're already dealing with and we're trying to get approval for funding from the state."

Craver estimates the East Davidson Pump Station rehabilitation project will cost $750,000 and the city is trying to pay for it through state revolving loans. Craver hopes the project can begin this summer.

A second spill occurred on Liberty Drive when a large volume of water increased internal pressure on a 85-year-old clay pipe, causing it to rupture. As a result, approximately 9,000 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled into North Hamby Creek.

On West Guilford Street, debris caused an estimated 1,360 gallons of wastewater to spill into a tributary leading to Hanks Branch Creek. Craver said crews attempted to jettison the blockage out of several manholes before finally backing it out using city equipment.

The city currently has two infrastructure projects slated to begin soon at the Northside Pump Station and the Hamby Creek outfall line.

The Division of Water Quality was notified of the spills on thursday and is reviewing the matter. House Bill 1160, enacted by the General Assembly in July, 1999, requires municipalities, animal operations, industries and others operating waste handling systems issue news releases when a spill of 1,000 gallons or more reach surface waters. 

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.