MSD investigating contractor after French Broad sewage spill

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.”


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.