Friday, August 6, 2010


A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Wed 4 Aug 2010
Source: The Tennessean [edited]

A weekend [1 Aug 2010] sewage leak killed thousands of fish and other
wildlife in the Stones River West Fork and may lead to the state
fining the city of Murfreesboro, an official said.

"You will probably have many hundreds to thousands of dead fish from
a 1.25 mi [2 km] stretch," said Doug Markham, an information officer
for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in the Middle Tennessee
region. "Wildlife belongs to the state. We try to recoup some of the
value. The river will replenish. It will recover. But some kind of
assessment will be done as to the loss of value of wildlife to the
Stones River."

As a precaution, city officials are asking residents to stay out of a
portion of the Stones River after the sanitary sewer overflow on
Sunday [1 Aug 2010] caused raw sewage to enter the West Fork Stones
River just south of the bridge over Bridge Avenue.

The city has posted warning signs along the Stones River Greenway
from the Bridge Avenue area to the Searcy Street Trailhead off
Medical Center Parkway. The city is even advising people to stay out
of the river as far downstream as the Thompson Lane Trailhead to the greenway.

The city learned Sunday afternoon [1 Aug 2010] around 1:30 pm that an
Old Fort Park Pumping Station for its sewer line failed sometime the
day before near the Old Fort Golf Club by the No. 3 green. Golfers
dealt with the stench before city workers by 3:30 p.m. stopped the
overflow oozing out of manhole cover on Molloy Lane on the south side
of Bridge Avenue, Water and Sewer Director Joe Kirchner said.

Kirchner said a lightning strike around 3 or 4 pm Saturday [31 Jul
2010] caused the pump station failure and probably contributed to
sensors failing to recognize something was wrong. A resident called
sewer system staff the next day to alert the department after
noticing dead fish and gray water near the bridge.

Kirchner, a 27-year city veteran, hopes the affected river area will
be safe again by this weekend [7-8 Aug 2010]. The city is still
trying to figure out how much sewage went into the river.

"This hot water doesn't help us any," he said. "Water doesn't hold as
much oxygen when it's hotter. The stream is naturally trying to clean
itself up right now."

Full enjoyment of the river, though, may take longer, said Markham,
the wildlife resources officer. "I probably wouldn't go fishing in
that particular spot for a couple of months," Markham said.

Both of his department's assigned officers have looked into the leak,
and TWRA [Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency] biologist David Sims
counted the dead river wildlife, Markham said. This includes fish,
salamanders, crawfish, mussels, small clams, and many other aquatic
wildlife. Sims' assessment should be done soon.

The city could face fines that vary on the value of the wildlife
killed. Largemouth bass, for example, will have a greater value
because they're more popular for fishermen than crawfish. Any fines
will be up to the Tennessee Department of Environment and
Conservation, TDEC spokeswoman Tisha Calabrese-Benton said. Her
department was contacted by the city about the problem and sent staff
to examine the leak.

The problem will not impact the city's drinking water, which is
processed at the city's water treatment plant by the Stones River
East Fork on the far north side of the city.

To help the damaged river area recover, the city has added repurified
water to the stream that has a higher degree of devolved oxygen in it
to replenish what was depleted as a result of the raw sewage
overflow, Kirchner said.

[Byline: Scott Broden]

Communicated by:
HealthMap Alerts via ProMED-mail

[Interesting dilemma. First of all, how does a state value its
wildlife? Is it an arbitrary figure? It cannot be based on fishing
licenses as those same licenses can be used elsewhere in the state.
While there are swap meets and trade days, there is not that high a
traffic selling some of these animals, and generally those markets
are breeding or pet quality, and wildlife may be neither of those.
So, how does the TWRA establish a 'cost'?

While no one is happy about the stench and the ramifications, the
river will recover, as dilution is the solution to pollution. Trite
though it may be, it is nevertheless true. Adding purified water will
help the river flush itself and restore cooler waters and more oxygen
to the water.

The determination of how much sewage spilled may not be as important
as how it happened in the first place. Determining that may help
prevent a 2nd spill.

Likely many of the fish were oxygen depleted and heat stressed to
start with, so the environment was fragile before the incident.

Although the potable water processing plant may be on the other side
of town, it is not clear if the plant is upstream or downstream of
the spill. The other side of town does not answer that question. I
cannot help but wonder if we will be seeing a 'boil water order' in
the next week or so when the filters of the water processing plant
are plugged up, unless of course the drinking water plant is upstream
from the spill. - Mod.TG]

[As stated above, it is not clear what the geography of the water
supply intake and the plant sewage output is. A large number of human
enteric pathogens could contaminate a water supply downstream from a
sewage leak including bacteria such as _E. coli_, _Salmonella
enterica_, and _Campylobacter_ and a host of viruses. - Mod.LL]

[The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Tennessee is available
at . - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]

[see also:
Sewage sludge (2) 19960716.1270
Sewage sludge - RFI 19960715.1263
BSE Slaughterhouse sewage 19960702.1205]

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