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Garner Sewage Spill Might Have Been Preventable

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GARNER — For the fifth time in 16 months, the main sewage line that treats part of Garner has either leaked or ruptured. Town officials say Tuesday's leak could have been prevented, but the State Division of Water Quality disagrees about who is to blame.

The leak was called in around 10 a.m. after some residents in the Oregon Trail neighborhood started noticing the smell.

Crews spent Tuesday morning cleaning up what authorities have described as a "minor" leak. Asst. Town Manager Mary Lou Rand explains.

"It is considered a minor leak in that there probably will not be any kind of a spill as a result of this other than what surfaced to the top of the ground this morning," Rand says.

Rand estimates that several thousand gallons spilled. "Our spill a week and a half ago was about 3,000 [gallons] up until we had to cut the line. In this situation, it does not appear we're gong to have to cut the line while there is still wastewater in it," Rand says.

Rand also assures residents "there is absolutely no reason why it should contaminate any of the drinking water in this area."

The town has asked the city ofRaleighto bring in some heavier equipment to try and get to the leak.

Rand believes the additional equipment will be enough. "Our guys are real confident that if we get the larger equipment from Raleigh we can get down there quick enough that it will not be a major problem," she says.

What frustrates Rand is that it's possible the problem could have been prevented.

"The town filed an application with the state three months ago. Oct. 12 is when they received our application for the installation of a surge tank back at the pump station which would relieve the pressure on this line when the pump station shuts down."

The State Division of Water Quality disagrees with Garner officials, and says it is not the one dragging its feet in this matter.

"It wasn't a complete application when it came in, and we did not get that until early December," says Ernie Seneca, N.C. Water Quality spokesman. "It was December 9th."

Oregon Trail residents just want a sewage solution soon.

"We're just so fed up," resident Alan O'Neill said. "We have to worry about drinking our water. We have to worry about our kids getting sick, our pets coming out here and getting in it. It's just sad, it's really sad."

The state says it could approve Garner's plan to install the surge tank by the end of the week. It will still take several months to build the tank.

"We're waiting for that permit before we can have the tank actually constructed and installed," Rand says.

Rand says the town's engineers are convinced the surge tank would stop the backflow from being so forceful.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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