Havelock experiences largest spill yet

Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Sanitary Sewer Overflows, Sound Rivers, Stormwater, Stormwater Issues, Water Quality

Posted on March 7th, 2024

Slocum Creek in Havelock.

A massive sewage spill in Havelock over the weekend is step backward for a city working toward resolving ongoing pollution.

“There is an urgent need for investment in infrastructure, operator training and staff capacity,” said Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop. “We shouldn’t be seeing 591,000 gallons of sewage spill from the treatment facility after 1 inch of rain, especially given this a known, flood-prone community that will continue to experience floods in a future of climate change.”

In addition to the 591,000 gallons of raw sewage that spilled from the city’s sewage treatment facility — an estimated 200,000 gallons of which flowed into the marsh adjacent to Slocum Creek —  another 6,000 gallons were also released from a manhole into Joe’s Branch, a small tributary of Slocum Creek that runs through a residential neighborhood.

Sound Rivers Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register traveled to Havelock to collect water samples to test for E. coli.

“The water in Joe’s Branch reeked of sewage, and sure enough, all samples came back well over the recommended limit for fecal bacteria,” Taylor said.

Taylor said results from samples taken at the closest point she could get to the treatment facility were elevated, and she expects them to get higher.

“We think that the contents of the spill is still contained to the marsh behind the plant, and had not fully made it out into the East Prong of Slocum Creek yet,” Taylor said. “We are hopeful that cleanup efforts will move along quickly before anything substantial makes it into the main stem of creek to flow downstream.”

The nearly 600,000-gallon spill at the wastewater treatment facility in Havelock is being called the largest in the town’s history, topping the 500,000-gallon spill at the same site in January.

Sound Rivers will be working with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Havelock to address the ongoing pollution issues plaguing the town’s waterways.

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