The Metropolitan Sewerage District quite literally spilled into the week’s news again, but with consequences beyond administrative policy. As David Forbes reported on April 30, “A malfunctioning pump at the Metropolitan Sewerage District plant sent millions of gallons of raw sewage into the French Broad River starting this morning.”
Many readers responded on mountainx.com and Facebook with worry about MSD’s competency to manage Asheville’s water system. Others couldn’t resist a pun or joke: Cesspool of Sin, indeed.
Karen Cragnolin of RiverLink updated Xpress on the aftermath of the spill. “The state really comes in now to assess whether this was negligence on their part, or if it’s more accidental. I think they’ve spread lime and begun other cleanup activities,” she says. The recent spate of April showers somewhat mitigated the immediate damage to the French Broad. “The higher the water, the faster it moves,” Cragnolin says.
If there is a silver lining, or plume in this case, the spill might illuminate the water-treatment process, and both its vulnerability and import, for area residents who take clean tap water for granted. “Wilma Dykeman was right: People stopped thinking about water when they didn’t have to go to the stream with a pail anymore,” Cragnolin says. Maybe the side benefit — if there can be one — maybe more people will tune into where it comes from and where it goes. It’s very unfortunate, but if it had to happen, I’m glad it was in a high-water season.”
As to where the execrable front is now flowing, Cragnolin figures that it’s left the state. “I think it’s beyond Knoxville now,” she says. “It’s on its way to the Mississippi! The river is flowing pretty fast from all that rain.”
If you’d like to learn more about how your water is treated — and about the area’s various waterways in general, visit riverlink.org. The organization leads regular tours of area reservoirs and the MSD treatment plant, as well as river explorations and other outings. — Jaye Bartell
"Obviously we didn't anticipate this, but by god we'll have a contingency plan. This is totally counter to what we try to do." So they will have a contingency plan in the future, but they don't now? Even though this has happened before? Am I reading that right? — RavenRavinoff
And … Moffitt wants MSD to run our water system? — Anne Craig
Exactly my thoughts. — Lamont Cranston
Just think, this time next year they can just redirect the overflow into the water pipes and keep it out of the river. Consolidation offers so many advantages! — Crapper
RavenRavinoff, Boyd says an incident like this has NOT happened before. However, I certainly agree a contingency plan should have been in place beforehand. — Joseph
And of course MSD is run by an unelected board that has ZERO imperative to provide transparency. We may never know what happened today. If the part failed due to improper use or maintenance. Whether or not they'd been directed to have a contingency plan before .
And that's exactly what we'll have when they take control of the water system. Zero transparency. Zero accountability. Sure hope they have a contingency plan in place if something goes wrong with our water system. — RavenRavinoff
Get a grip. It's not like someone at MSD thought it would be neat to dump a bunch of sewage into the river. Something BROKE and they are FIXING it. Please don't insinuate an incompetence when there isn't one. MSD is an a well run organization — administratively as well as in the field. — Shelly Powell
Ooh boy. Any idea what this might do for the rafting companies (aka poor rafters trying to survive for tips) or the French Broad River Festival? Or should we all just not play in that river for Moffitt taking care of us? Thanks, big money — I didn't need to frolic in that river anyway. — boatrocker
Not to worry. On the floor of the NC House today, Rep. Chuck McGrady said that this was merely a "contractor's problem.” Nothing to see here, nobody to be held responsible, no need to alter votes on whether to hand MSD the water system. Move along. — bsummers
And these are the people to which we entrust our water system? Really, Mr. Moffitt? — Byron Ballard
Talk about a cesspool of sin. — Elle Tee
This is why we should all use composting toilets. — Lauren Brittany
"Contingency plan"? Isn't that a bit late? How about a redundancy plan for those pumps? Xpress, how about staying on top of this one and reporting their progress to us? — Aunty George Nash
This is what Tim Moffitt wants for all of us who live in the Cesspool of Sin! — Chris Tanfield