Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Two Brunswick County untreated wastewater discharges send upward of 22,000 gallons into waterways

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — The county’s public utility system had two discharges of untreated wastewater on Friday, spilling over 45,000 gallons, 15,500 to 22,000 gallons of which reached waterways.

According to Brunswick County, the first discharge was from a sanitary sewer force main located near 2629 Ocean Highway, just outside Shallotte. The overflow was discovered at 8 a.m. on Friday, June 12. Brunswick County and Shallotte staff investigated and discovered a 24-inch force main was leaking at a bell joint. Repairs began at 11:45 a.m. and were completed around 2:30 p.m.

Officials believe between 5,500 and 7,000 gallons of untreated wastewater reached a tributary of Williams Branch, which flows into the Shallotte River on its way to the Intracoastal Waterway.

The second discharge came from the pump station located at Sea Trail wastewater treatment plant in Sunset Beach. According to officials, a level transducer (a measurement device for water levels) failed and caused two transfer pumps to run continuously; the pumps overheated and then failed.

The resulting discharge started around 7:30 p.m. and continued until pumps were repaired; crews restored the first pump by 10:30 p.m. and the second one an hour later at 11:30 p.m. During that time, officials believe around 40,000 gallons of untreated wastewater was discharged. Roughly two-thirds remained on the plant site, according to the county, with between 10,000 and 15,000 gallons reaching a series of ditches, tributaries to the Calabash River. By Saturday, sampling had been done and remediation was complete.

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