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Environmentalists notice evidence of prior sewage spill at Athens creek

State environmentalists now say a sewage spill that killed thousands of fish had probably happened in the past at Swan Creek in Athens.

Posted: Jul 19, 2019 6:07 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2019 11:07 PM

State environmentalists now say a sewage spill that killed thousands of fish had probably happened in the past at Swan Creek in Athens.

That spill killed 3,000 fish near the Old Pilgrim's Pride. Athens Utilities says it happened during maintenance to a sewage line.

"I want it fixed because this is a very nice place to come," Leiland Dever said.

Dever likes to fish at Swan Creek with her family. She says she's noticed a change since a raw sewage spill in May.

"I noticed less larger fish," Dever said.

This week, a report on an investigation was published online on the Alabama Department of Environmental Management website.

It states Athens Utilities was aware of the issue in May, even posting warning signs along the creek. Based on the presence of decaying fish, a similar spill probably happened in the past. The report states the utility "made no effort to report it to the District 1 Fisheries Office."

The report also states it can't verify the utility reported the spill to environmental management.

A spokesperson of Athens Utilities told WAAY 31 the company did notify environmental management, and further comments need to come from the mayor's office.

Mayor Ronnie Marks wasn't available to go on camera, but told WAAY 31 he has proof Athens Utilities contacted the state. He said he can't provide those records until early next week.

WAAY 31 also reached out to the fisheries office to see if Athens Utilities reported the spill. We are waiting to hear back.

Dever says someone needs to take responsibility and do something about it.

"If it's their problem, then they need to fix it," Dever said.

When we first reported this story, Athens Utilities told us a balloon used to stop sewage flow during maintenance was not removed, causing the sewage to back up and overflow.

We're waiting to learn if the utility could be penalized for the fish kill.

Read the full Alabama Department of Environmental Management report below:

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