Image from a video taken by the non-profit French Broad Riverkeeper on April 30
Many people were shocked when a malfunctioning pump sent millions of gallons of raw sewage spilling into the French Broad River April 30. While the issue was repaired the same day, MSD Manager Tom Hartye tells Xpress it never should have happened in the first place, asserting contractor Gilbert Engineering failed to follow a contingency plan.
“There was a fail-safe plan discussed at the pre-construction conference with the contractor. He did not follow it, we’re investigating why,” Hartye says. “It wouldn’t have happened if he’d followed the plan.”
He says MSD crews went around to areas affected by the spill, removed contaminated soil, added lime, and covered it with straw and mulch.
“Since the spill we did a battery of tests along the river,” Hartye says. “The river got back to normal somewhere between Wednesday afternoon [May 1] and Thursday morning [May 2].”
Test results released by MSD showed the fcu or fecal coliform count, at 6700 while the spill was passing by, but declined to 320 the following day and down to 87, within its normal level, by May 2.
“It was very unfortunate, because we’ve spent a lot of money rehabbing our system,” he says, noting significant declines in fecal matter in the water since 2005. “That’s what we’ve been all about, and it’s unfortunate this mishap set us back a bit.”