Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bio Hazard Discovered and Reported

A foul odor has been wafting across the yard around my house for the past few days. I had thought it might be decaying plant matter from the recent rains because I could not determine an exact location. The odor seemed to move around from place to place. As I tried to locate it, it would disappear.

Sewage Making the Creek White
Last evening, the persistent stench smelled like raw sewage and I took the situation more seriously. I suspected that the light industry up the hill behind my house may have been illegally dumping down the hill causing the odor, and so I went to find the source.

It, sadly, did not take long to discover the true problem and I could not imagine the severity of the situation. As soon as I reached the normally pristine creek behind the house from which the frogs which love to swim in my pool probably come, it was immediately evident that there was a major raw sewage leak. 

Sewage in the creek
The stream was white with the raw sewage and the smell was strong, but not overpowering. I went back to the house, although I did not yet know the source of the sewage in the stream. I called the emergency number for Howard County utilities. I alerted my neighbors to the situation and searched for the source of the contamination.

Broken Sewage Pipe
The cause, it turned out, was a  broken pipe in the stream spewing sewage unabated. The pipe had probable broken during the last storms as the ground under it appeared washed away. I called the county and updated them with the location of the sewage and waited for their imminent arrival.

Why a sewer line was run through the middle of a creek, I will never understand, it just seems like bad planning. The county took immediate action to abate the discharge and I expect that over the next few days that they will be making more permanent repairs. Interestingly, I was told that the sewage line that broke was scheduled to be moved from the creek. 

I guess they didn't get to it soon enough.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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