Fast response limits sewer spill in LaGrange

Published 10:26 am Tuesday, November 21, 2023

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Quick action from LaGrange city staff limited what could have been a major wastewater spill Friday morning.

The spill occurred at the East Industrial Lift Station near Long Cane Creek Friday morning around 9 a.m.

According to a spill report provided to The LaGrange Daily News, the city was notified of the spill at 9:15 a.m. and it was stopped by 9:30 a.m. During the spill, an estimated 9,000 gallons of discharge was released into the Long Cane Creak watershed plane.

The report indicated a pipe joint failure occurred at the lift station site on the by-pass line going around the main line valve vault. A vertical stand-pipe used for emergency pump hook-up came uncoupled at the connection to the by-pass line tee joint.

The spill was stopped when the bypass line valve was closed.

City staff were able to locate the failure point after excavation and repairs were made once the problem was unearthed.

Although 9,000 gallons seems like a lot, the spill is relatively minor according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria, said Utilities Director Patrick Bowie.

“Everything is relative, 9000 gallons relative to the watershed of Long Cane Creek is pretty minor. That 9,000 gallons in your backyard is pretty major. So, it’s a relative term,” Bowie said.

“Staff was able to respond and then cut the pumps off. That stops the flow until they could get the line repaired and put it back in service,” Bowie said.

The 9000 gallons is an estimate based on the pump capacity and how long the leak was active, he said.

Bowie said the spill was cleaned up but some of the leaked wastewater will end up going into the watershed.

“[Staff] cleaned it up when they got there. They have a vac truck. It’s a big vacuum truck, and they vacuum out as much as they possibly can to try and keep from it getting into the creek,” he said.