NCDEQ: 'Significant' sewage spill on Slocum Creek

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

Posted on January 18th, 2024

An estimated 500,000 gallons of wastewater and sludge spilled from the Havelock Sewer Plant over the weekend.

In what is believed to be the largest spill in the town’s history, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is working with the town to determine how much waste was spilled and how much reached the surface waters of the east prong of Slocum Creek.

The spill originated from a broken valve in an underground line that was not supposed to be in operation.

“This is another sign that we need to invest in our outdated infrastructure,” said Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop. “That said, the city has been working very hard to address its problem of outdated sewer infrastructure, and we recognize that progress does not come without its setbacks.”

Though the spill started on Saturday night, it was not discovered until Sunday. NCDEQ was notified of the extent of the spill on Tuesday.

“We would have hoped to see the city following the state requirement for issuing a public notice following spills to surface waters. The delay in that notification means we were unable to do surface water sampling immediately and determine the extent of impacts to waterways right after the spill, and it also means that users of the creek were unaware of contamination of the creek during that period,” Samantha said.

An unknown quantity of wastewater and sludge was discovered settled in the woods near the impacted area, the marsh behind the plant and the east Prong of Slocum Creek, according to a press release from the town. Cleanup efforts are underway.

According to Havelock officials, the challenge will be cleaning up the woods and marsh where most of the sewage settled. The town is reporting daily to NCDEQ about the progress of the clean-up and will be taking samples every two days from three locations on the creek to determine water-quality impacts.

Since last summer, the town has been working with Sound Rivers to determine the source of ongoing pollution discovered during routine recreational water-quality testing at the public access on Slocum Creek, a Sound Rivers’ Swim Guide site. Samantha, Sound Rivers Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register and Executive Director Heather Deck will be joining town officials for a “listening session” to discuss the state of recreational waters in Havelock. The event is slated for 7 p.m. on Feb. 20, and the public is encouraged to attend.

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