Local News

Durham Officials Coping with Sewage Spill

Posted July 28, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A million gallon raw rewage spill Sunday morning at the Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant near Jordan Lake Sunday morning will force the town of Cary to increase the amount of chlorine in its water.

There isn't a serious threat to the Triangle's drinking water, and the goal is to keep that spill from making its way to the major supplier of the Triangle's drinking water.

Nearly one million gallons of raw sewage seeped through area tributaries in Durham. Four pumps at the Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant in southern Durham County flooded Sunday morning, contaminating Burden's Creek, which flows into Northeast Creek, and eventually into Jordan Lake.

David Thompson, Durham county manager, said Sunday night a valve at the plant's influent pump station malfunctioned and caused sewage to overflow rather than pump the quarter mile to the plant, which is at N.C. 55 and T.W. Alexander Drive.

The sewage plant serves primarily Research Triangle Park and about 5,000 residents near the park.

Thompson said an alarm sounded at 9 a.m. Sunday signaling that one pump had failed. A team of engineers responded to the alarm to fix the pump, but by 11 a.m. the plant had shut down completely, he said.

"The biggest problem is environmental," Thompson said. "We notified the state emergency management team and the state water quality division, and they will determine what happens from here."

Thompson said water wells and septic systems were not affected, nor was drinking water immediately threatened.

The Division of Water Quality has kept busy this year. Four hundred sewage spills have been reported in the last seven months. A treatment plant in Greensboro was responsible for almost a fourth of those spills. The Division of Water Quality says the largest spill so far was five million gallons.