Spills and overflows from sewer lines pose a host of problems to a community. Not only can it spoil the environment, but it can also endanger public health. Sewer cleaning tools are undoubtedly indispensable in preventing such events, but there’s still much to do. In the case of states like Alabama, sewage spills are more prevalent than expected.
Water conservation groups have expressed their concern over the instances of sewage spills around the state. Recently, nine Alabama groups have compiled a map of over 1,271 sewage spills that occurred in 2016 as part of their efforts in persuading state regulators to practice oversight in these cases.
Setting Clearer Standards
Despite the numbers provided, the groups noted that the actual number of sewage spilled in Alabama might be higher. This is because nine percent of the spill reports did not include estimates on the amount of sewage spilled, while unreported spills were not included.
Eva Dillard from Black Warrior Riverkeeper, one of the groups that compiled the map, noted that there are sanitary sewer overflows “happening on any given day across the state, and we accept that it is the case.” In releasing the map to the public, these water conservation groups aim to initiate rulemaking to set better standards in how utilities should notify the public once sewage spills occur.
Currently, Alabama wastewater treatment plants are expected to “immediately” notify the public of a sewage spill, though there are no clear standards on what “immediately” means or how the public should be notified.
EMC to Study the Issue
Unfortunately, the state’s Environmental Management Commission (EMC) denied this petition from the nine groups. They did, however, promise to study the issue closely and consider rule-making on improving public notification of sewage spills in the future.
Nelson Brooke of the Black Warrior Riverkeeper expressed disappointment in this development, though he lauded the commission’s stand on the need for better public notification regulations. “We will work with the EMC in crafting public notification rules to guide necessary public notice, which will ensure nobody is unknowingly swimming, fishing, and recreating in sewage,” Brooke said.
There’s no doubt that sewage spills are prevalent in states like Alabama, but that doesn’t mean communities can’t prevent them in the first place. Safeguarding the environment and the public’s health starts with proper preventive measures, and the use of high-quality sewer cleaning truck equipment can be indispensable.
Alabama had at least 1,271 sewage spills in 2016; See where they happened, AL.com
State acknowledges need for better sewage spill notification – a “study” and improved rules should follow, BhamNow.com