When the Alabama Department of Public Health notified the public about a sewage spill from the Town of Loxley on Monday, Mobile Baykeeper’s Program Director Cade Kistler grabbed his gear and headed out to Fish River. Kistler took samples from four locations along Fish River: County Rd 64 just down from the Loxley discharge, Highway 104, Bohemian Park (County Rd. 48), and County Rd 32. This evening Mobile Baykeeper staff were able to read the results, which showed E. coli levels of 262 MPN/100mL (most probable number of bacteria in 100mL of water) at County Rd 64, 160 MPN/100mL at Highway 104, 170 MPN/100mL at Bohemian Park, and 134 MPN/100mL at County Rd 32. The EPA E. coli threshold for swimming is 235 MPN/100mL. While these results are near, and in one case just exceeding, the EPA threshold it’s important to note they are similar to the average E. coli levels (193 MPN/100mL) Mobile Baykeeper’s S.W.I.M. sampling has found in Fish River at Bohemian Park on days without reported sewage releases or spills.
Significant problems have plagued oyster harvesting in Portersville Bay for years and water quality remains a major issue in the area. ADEM now has the opportunity to solve many of the problems facing Portersville Bay and its water quality issues affecting oyster harvesting. This can only take place if ADEM works with other agencies, local businesses – especially the seafood industry and aquaculture – and local citizens and includes all relevant studies and data in the permitting process.
Thanks to the amazing response from the community and comments by Mobile Baykeeper the project was modified. The sewer line that is now in place was "hung" from the County Road 32 bridge, where a break or spill would be obvious and quickly fixed, a WIN for clean water and Fish River community members! This victory is clear proof that YOU can affect change!