Flooding causes large sewer line to break in Sheffield

The break in the line put 750,000 gallons of raw sewage into the river.

Posted: Feb 27, 2020 5:43 PM
Updated: Feb 27, 2020 10:23 PM

Flooding in the Shoals is believed to be the culprit behind a stinky, costly mess!

A 38 inch sewage pipe broke in Sheffield and released around 750,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Tennessee River. To make matters worse the pipe was in a hard location to get to. It's attached to a bluff wall near Riverfront Park in Sheffield. The easiest way to get to it is via boat, so Monday night when employees noticed the flows were abnormal they had to act fast.

"I think it's pretty disgusting and I'm upset it happened," said Sheffield resident, Barbara Cook.

Cook loves the Tennessee River and she wants to see the 70-year-old pipe moved, so do Sheffield Utility officials.

"We're trying to take measures to remove this pipe and put a lift station in and pump around it," said Tommy Barnes, whose with Sheffield Utilities.

Barnes said the department is still waiting to learn how much it cost to repair the break. It was fixed by Tuesday night, but fixing the bigger pipe issue will cost 5 to 6 million. Barnes said the department spent the past decade trying to get the money.

"We've been planning and seeking funds for quite awhile here," said Barnes.

Barnes said the way the river rose it submerged the pipe and caused it to separate. Workers cut through a wooded area to get to the pipe and repair it. Cook said it’s time the government pays up.

"It's a huge problem and the government should help us because we can't afford it on our own," said Cook.

Barnes told WAAY31 he believes the quick current and the amount of water moving helped dilute the raw sewage. He said if it was a calm summer day, the effects on the environment could have been worse.

WAAY31 called the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to see if Sheffield Utilities would be fined. We haven't heard back from the department but we know Sheffield reported the issues to ADEM immediately.

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