Daphne may have reported the biggest spill on Baldwin County’s Eastern Shore during heavy rains associated with Hurricane Barry but Utilities Manager Bobby Purvis says overflow from his plant was not sewage.
On July 13, there were eight reported spills in the county with five in Fairhope, one in Spanish Fort and another in Summerdale caused by the heavy downfall. A spill in Bay Minette on the same day was due to a mechanical issue and not rain. In Mobile, there were 10 overflows reported and six more in Prichard.
Purvis said the 125,000-gallon spill reported in Daphne was water that had already been treated but overwhelmed a nine-million-gallon tank and went into the wrong waterway.
“At that point, it went into D’Olive Creek but that’s not our permitted outfall and that’s where we violated the code,” Purvis said. “It was fully treated and everything was fine but we don’t have a permit to put it there.”
No health warnings were issued for the Daphne spill, Purvis said.
But a spill at Fairhope’s Valley Street Lift Station and two manholes on Middle Street prompted health warnings for Cowpen Creek, Big Mouth Gully, and Water Hole Branch. Residents were urged to be careful swimming in these waterways, thoroughly cook any seafood caught there and wash hands after handling any seafood.
“Due to heavy flooding from Hurricane Barry, we have had over eight inches of rain in the last 12 hours,” the city’s report to the state reads. “The SSO discharged Between 50,000 and 75,000 gallons into the drainage ditch to Big Head Gully a subsidiary Tatumville Gully.”
Other spills in Fairhope during the storm were at Rohr Lift Station of between 1,000 and 10,000 gallons, Young Street and Johnson Avenue of about 1,500 gallons, near Fire Station 2 of about 2,000 gallons and a spill of about 1,000 gallons at the South Section Lift Station caused by an electrical issue.
Operations Director Richard Peterson said all spills are concerning regardless of the size.
“We’re not satisfied with any of them being OK or acceptable,” Peterson said. “The Valley station is the most disappointing because we focused most of our rehabilitation work in that little collection basin and there are no additional flows from any developments that come into that basin. We’ve reinstated some two dozen manholes in that location.”
In Spanish Fort, less than 1,000 gallons spilled during the storm at the treatment plant and was absorbed by the ground or picked up by a pump truck. In Summerdale, an overflow of 1,000 to 10,000 gallons was reported at Lee Street and County Road 71. About 8,000 gallons spilled into Bay Minette’s Hollinger Creek near East First Street and was caused by an electrical issue at the station.
Of Mobile’s 10 reported incidents only four listed amounts with the largest being 3,600 gallons spilled into Eslava Creek. The health department said extra precautions should be taken around Three Mile Creek, Eslava Creek and Miller Creek.
Six spills reported in Prichard totaled about 18,700 gallons with the largest being 6,300 on North College Street.
This report was edited to reflect an amended report from MAWSS.
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