The city of Flint, Michigan, has dumped an estimated 2 million gallons of raw sewage into the Flint River last week, worsening the city’s water crisis.
The spill occurred on August 18, but the city failed to disclose just how much sewage went into the river until a partial report was filed with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy on August 20.
Residents have been urged to steer clear of the Flint River in order to avoid exposure to high levels of bacteria.
This spill has come just months after officials warned wastewater infrastructure was approaching a ‘critical point’ as the water crisis continues five years on.
Late Saturday night, more than 2.2 inches of rain fell in the Flint area in a three-hour period.
According to the report, a ‘flash flood event’ occurred ‘which exceeded the plant’s primary settling tanks causing overflow’.
That then sent raw waste onto the ground and into a storm sewer drain that discharges directly to the river, MLive reports.
The city has yet to reveal what protocols were in place prior to the spill or how it will prevent a similar incident in the future.
Last week’s sewage spill comes just months after the City Council approved nearly $1 million in contracts with companies to help design upgrades to sewage treatment.
This came after infrastructure after officials warned that the existing system was at risk of ‘catastrophic failure.’
The city of Flint is seeking a $34 million loan to fund the improvements to wastewater infrastructure.
‘Large amounts of runoff and churning of the river sediments generally result in high bacterial levels in the river throughout high flow areas,’ the public health advisory from the county health department reads.
‘Notification of the water sample test results will be made by postings on the State of Michigan website. Any revisions or withdrawal of the health advisory will be made as soon as results are available.’
‘We’re going to get to a point where we can’t treat our wastewater and sewage anymore,’ Rob Bincsik, Director of the Department of Public Works, told MLive in June.
‘We won’t have to talk about drinking water anymore, because we’ll talk about nothing but the raw sewage that gets discharged into the Flint River.
He added that the condition of infrastructure and needed capital investment at the wastewater treatment plant had nothing to do with the recent discharge into the Flint River.
‘The duration and intensity of the rain event caused an immediate and significant increase in flow, subsequently causing the primary tanks to overflow untreated sewage into the storm sewer and ultimately the river.
‘Wastewater treatment plant staff did everything possible to minimize the discharge event but they are really at the mercy of Mother Nature in situations such as this.’