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Remnants of Eta cause sewage spills in Burke
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Remnants of Eta cause sewage spills in Burke

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Rain from Tropical Storm Eta caused flooding along Kirksey Drive in Morganton.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Eta dumped more than 7 inches in parts of Burke County and it caused some wastewater systems to overflow.

The town of Valdese reported last week that it had a spill of about 52,500 gallons at its Cline Avenue pump station. Greg Padgett, public services director of the town, said the majority of the spill was rainwater. He said the pump station couldn’t handle the 6 inches of rain the town received in a 24-hour period.

State law requires that owners or operator of a wastewater collection or treatment facility to issue a press release when they have 1,000 gallons or more of untreated wastewater discharge reaches surface water.

Even though it was likely all rainwater, Padgett said, because it goes through the sewage system, it has to be called a spill. The spill happened for around 3½ hours on Nov. 12, according to information from the town.

The untreated wastewater entered Double Branch Creek in the Catawba River Basin.

Padgett said the remnants from the tropical storm was the biggest single-day rain event this year. He said the heavy rain was more flow than the pump station could handle.

“Lines that weren’t normally under water were under water during that event, and manholes as well,” Padgett said.

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The town is looking to make some improvements at the pump station to prevent similar spills in the future.

Padgett said the town is currently seeking state funding to replace some sewer lines in the Cline Avenue pump station area. He said the town should know in early February whether it will receive the funding.

In addition to the Cline Avenue spill, Lake Rhodhiss Wastewater Treatment Plant had a spill of around 18,750 gallons over an hour and 15 minutes, the town said.

The town also had approximately 15,000 gallons during a 30-minute period that was discharged from the splitter box running over. The untreated wastewater from the plant entered Lake Rhodhiss, part of the Catawba River Basin.

For more information, contact Greg Padgett, Public Services Director at 828-874-6789

The city of Morganton also saw a spill from the same event. The city said at 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 12 that there was a spill at a sewer junction box on Vinearden Road near the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The city said approximately 180,000 gallons spilled into Hunting Creek. The overflow stopped at 1:30 p.m. the same day, it said. Just like the spills in Valdese, the overflow in Morganton was mostly rainwater.

For more information about the Morganton spill, call the Water Resources Department at 828-438-5276.

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