Since January 2016, Mobile and Baldwin County have had more than 3.2 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.

Raw sewage spills into a ditch near Three Mile Creek in Mobile.

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. 

For more information on how to use the features in the web tool, please contact Program Director Cade Kistler at ckistler@mobilebaykeeper or check out our How-To page.