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Gainesville Water Resources reports sewer spill in Squirrel Creek
Gainesville Department of Water Resources
Gainesville Department of Water Resources

The Gainesville Department of Water Resources has reported a sewer spill into Squirrel Creek, a tributary of Lake Lanier. 

At about 7:25 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18, a pipe burst at a Gainesville wastewater lift station, according to a city news release. Maintenance staff turned the pump off remotely at about 7:45 p.m. and went to the area. The water resource department estimates the overflow occurred for about 20 minutes. The station returned to normal operation by about 10 p.m. 

The city estimates that about half of the spill was contained on the site and the other half, about 14,000 gallons, went into the creek. Squirrel Creek is located near Thompson Bridge Road, north of Gainesville. 

The area of the spill was assessed at about midnight, and testing was done late Tuesday and again on Wednesday. 

Brian Wiley, environmental services manager with Gainesville Water Resources, said staff looked at a few water quality measures upstream and downstream from the site. Dissolved oxygen levels of five milligrams per liter or more are ideal, Wiley said. He said on Tuesday, the levels upstream of the site were 6.44 milligrams per liter, while the level upstream was 6.25 milligrams per liter Wednesday. Downstream, the level was 4.69 milligrams per liter Tuesday and 6.9 milligrams per liter Wednesday. 

Staff also looked at pH levels of the water, with the goal of a pH level between six and eight, Wiley said. The level was 7.1 upstream on Tuesday and 6.76 on Wednesday. Downstream, the level was 6.87 Tuesday and 7 on Wednesday.  

Temperature is another indicator that was checked. Wastewater is warmer than stream water, Wiley said. Upstream, the temperature was 69 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday and 68 degrees Wednesday. Downstream, the temperature was 71 degrees Tuesday and about 67 degrees Wednesday. Wiley said those temperatures are typical for rural, shaded streams in this weather.  

Wiley said aquatic life, including minnows and salamanders, were found alive in the water. 

Fecal coliform bacteria level results will likely be available Thursday, Wiley said. The lift station where the pipe burst is about 25 to 30 yards from the creek, he said. 

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division was notified late Tuesday and updated on Wednesday morning, according to the news release.  

Gainesville Water Resources will test the affected waters for the next 12 months, as required by the state, to monitor water quality. 

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