NTMWD works with state officials in cleaning Allen sewage overflow

NTMWD staff monitors water quality in Lavon Lake, which lies adjacent to the Wilson Creek facility.

The North Texas Municipal Water District is coordinating with officials from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in cleaning a wastewater overflow that occurred in the Wilson Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant located on the 3000 block of Orr Road in Allen.

According to a Feb. 17 press release, the overflow occurred as a result of “an isolated pumping disruption related to severe weather conditions.” This resulted to over 720,000 gallons of wastewater being overflowed. While some of the excess water traveled 300 feet beyond the plant’s perimeter, officials say it did not reach Lavon Lake or any other body of water.

“No negative environmental impact has been observed or monitored since the occurrence,” said Kathleen Vaught, public relations specialist for NTMWD. “Regulatory agencies were notified per state requirements.”

The spill reportedly took place on Feb. 16 between approximately 7:05 p.m. to 8 p.m. TCEQ media relations specialist Gary Rasp told Star Local Media that a representative from NTMWD notified TCEQ’s DFW regional office at 10:39 p.m.

Both parties confirm the spill was contained on-site.

The following day, a representative from NTMWD informed TCEQ that the spillage was frozen due to snow and temperatures that fluctuated between 19 to 26 degrees Fahrenheit.

“[TCEQ] staff advised NTMWD that, once the water melts they should attempt to return as much as possible to the plant headworks to be treated,” said Rasp in an email.

Cleanup is continuing as weather conditions allow, and an environmental assessment will be conducted after disinfection of the impacted area.

While the spillage did not reach any body of water, wastewater has the potential to carry deadly pathogens, including coronavirus. According to a Dec. 2020 study by the Science Bulletin, “The SARS-CoV-2 [virus] was found to be able to survive in the wastewater for several days and thus the potential spread of the virus via sewage must not be neglected.”

Meanwhile, studies by journals such as Chemosphere and Process Safety and Environmental Protection have shown that the virus can dwell and survive in feces and urine.

Because an environmental assessment has not yet been conducted, it is unknown at this time if any presence of COVID or other pathogens can be found in the impacted area. 

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