Since January 2017, Mobile and Baldwin County have had more than 21 Million gallons of raw sewage discharged into local waterways. Spills can be the result of blockages or broken lines, but most often they are the result of aging lines incapable of handling rainfall. Consistent investment and maintenance of sewer collection systems is necessary to decrease the frequency and severity of sewer overflows on the Alabama Gulf Coast to accommodate current and future growth. As a result, we advocate for more resources to repair and replace damaged and aging sewer infrastructure. We do this by working with utility providers to find solutions to problems associated with sewage collection systems.
What is a sanitary sewer overflow? A sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) is an event where untreated sewage is discharged from the sewage collection system. These discharges endanger human health, damage homes and businesses. Sewage spills also negatively impact our waterways and our ability to enjoy them.
- Health impacts: Sewage spills contain, bacteria, viruses, and a host of other pathogens. Health hazards range from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to more serious illnesses such as Hepatitis and Dysentery.
- Environmental impacts: Spills impair water quality by increasing concentration of pollutants, decreasing dissolved oxygen, and causing harmful algal blooms as a result of excessive nutrient loads. This also results in harm to fish, amphibians, and other species that inhabit the waterways.
What causes SSOs? Spills can be the result of blockages or broken lines, but most often they are the result of aging lines incapable of handling rainfall. Small breaks in the pipes caused by tree roots and wear and tear over time allow rainwater to infiltrate the pipes. This increase in volume can cause the system to overflow. The high amount of rainfall we receive in Coastal Alabama each year has made this issue a primary concern in our community.
We work to ascertain the severity of the sewer overflows and how they are distributed. We provide oversight to make sure municipal and private wastewater treatment operators address problems with their collection systems and are held accountable for spills. We work hard to keep you informed so you are aware of the extent of the problem and dangers to your family and community.
To help citizens understand where SSOs are occurring in Mobile and Baldwin County and how their communities and favorite waterbodies are impacted, we have created the "Sewage Spill Explorer" web tool. Please check out the tool below.
Thanks to those who took action and wrote letters demanding better public notification of sewer spills, ADEM has made two new tools available to the public that begin to help address the issue of notification.
Baykeeper files 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue Daphne Utilities for several violations under Clean Water Act
A lightning storm knocked out power to pumps at Daphne Utilities Wastewater Treatment Plant. The outage lasted approximately 12 hours and approximately 500,000 gallons of sewage spilled into D'Olive Creek.
It is Mobile Baykeeper's firm belief that utilities must do their utmost to review their systems, determine where deficiencies exist, invest in their systems, and when a spill occurs ensure that immediate and widespread notification takes place!
Baldwin County Sewer Service is proposing to put a sewage line under the Fish River, a river utilized by many community members to recreate and which ultimately flows into Weeks Bay. Mobile Baykeeper and our members have raised significant concerns with this project. Allowing a sewage line under Fish River, would create the potential for a massive sewage spill. Read more to find out how YOU can get involved.
The data from the map shows that between 28.8 million - 42.6 million gallons of sewage overflows were reported in 2016, not including the 9% of spills reported that did not include a volume estimate. However, the true number of spills that actually occurred is far higher than the map indicates as there were many spills that were reported with incomplete data or not reported at all.
If the two sides can come to an agreement this will be a WIN for residents living along Fish River, citizens of Alabama who enjoy fishing, boating, and swimming in the Fish River and Weeks Bay, and the unbelievably beautiful local environment. If not, the sewage line under the river will be a permanently looming threat to citizens, the River, and Weeks Bay.