‘A horrible situation’: millions of gallons of raw sewage spill into French Broad ***UPDATED***

A malfunctioning pump at the Metropolitan Sewerage District plant sent millions of gallons of raw sewage into the French Broad River starting this morning. MSD crews hope to have the “horrible situation” repaired by early afternoon, said MSD Director of Engineering Stan Boyd, and shortly before 3 p.m. the leak was fixed.

“The overflow stopped a little before 3 p.m.,” Boyd says. “We’re in the process of cleanup around the manholes where the overflows occur, and dealing with the contaminated soil, disinfecting it, make sure we get rid of the pathogens.”

Asked how long it will take, Boyd replied “honestly, I do not know. We’ll work diligently until it’s done.” As for the sewage that made it into the river, “there’s nothing we can do to clean it up,” but he says it will disperse qucikly.

“We’re in the process of replacing a pump — one of three — in our main pumping station. During that construction process, we had a failure in a device,” Boyd tells Xpress. That malfunction occurred just after 8 a.m. this morning, flooding the construction area and causing sewage to back up.

“It is backed up. Unfortunately it’s overflowing from manholes and into the French Broad River,” at the rate of about 1 million gallons an hour, Boyd said earlier today. “It’s a horrible situation and we don’t like it one bit. We’re doing everything we can to speed up the repair process.”

Boyd says an accident like this hasn’t happened before. “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.”

Here’s a video of the spill taken by the nonprofit French Broad Riverkeeper. The organization shared the video on Facebook.

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Multimedia content compiled by Caitlin Byrd


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12 thoughts on “‘A horrible situation’: millions of gallons of raw sewage spill into French Broad ***UPDATED***

  1. RavenRavinoff

    “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?

  2. Crapper

    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!

  3. Joseph

    RavenRavinoff, Boyd says an incident like this has NOT happened before. However, I certainly agree a contingency plan should have been in place beforehand.

  4. RavenRavinoff

    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.

  5. Shelly Powell

    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 incompetency when there isn’t one. MSD is an a well run organization

  6. boatrocker

    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.

    What a crappy denouement.

  7. bsummers

    Well, this certainly is a wastewatershed moment in the debate.

  8. Swatkins

    Are there experts out there who have been interviewed-by anyone-about this? Can someone in publishing present their opinions? This sewage spill is so serious and no one has offered any clear info about the long term effects of it.

  9. tommy cohen

    It is incompetent, haven dozens of sewage spills in one year. My wife and I and our friends arrived the Friday of the last sewage spill at the French Broad River Campground to camp and attend the Catawba College /Morris Hill football game recently in September. we noticed half a dozen patrol cars coming back to Ashville from the campground. wondered what it was about. Went tubing in the river after asking the campground owner about tubing and borrowing an air pump from him. went to the game on Saturday and returned to go tubing again. by chance, stopped by the public park just up from the campground and found sewage spill notices there, but nowhere else. found we were swimming in sewage on Friday at the worst time of the spill. we got sick from the exposure. trying to decide whether to sue the city of Ashville and the campground for grouse negligence for not warning us on asking and by not thoroughly posting the advisory. really let down. Tommy Cohen, Salisbury N. C.

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