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TDEC Issues Temporary Water Contact Advisory for Millers Creek Following Wastewater Release

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 | 01:23pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued a temporary water contact advisory today for Millers Creek in Coopertown, which is located in Robertson County. The Maple Green wastewater treatment lagoon developed sinkholes and a reported seven million gallons of wastewater was released into the groundwater that eventually reached the headwaters of Millers Creek.

TDEC is issuing this water contact advisory out of an abundance of caution. The department has collected samples and is informing the public that ongoing flow of untreated wastewater into Millers Creek presents a potential public health threat. Initial sampling results should be available within 48 hours.

There are no downstream drinking water intakes for up to 50 miles and no known private wells in the immediate area. A temporary berm is in place, but the lagoon, as modified, does not provide full treatment of the wastewater.

The Division of Water Resources within TDEC has been on site and several actions are being taken at this point in time, including:

  • Performing water quality monitoring to help determine risk and impacts;
  • Assessing whether there are wells in an expanded radius;
  • Providing oversight in support of corrective action;
  • Communicating with local and state authorities.

 

The Tennessee Water Quality Control Act requires that the department post signs and inform the public when bacteria in water or contaminants in sediment or fish tissue cause public health to be unduly at risk from exposure. Upon receipt of the initial sampling data, TDEC will determine if posting signs is warranted.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, illnesses can be caused by germs that are spread by swallowing or having other contact with contaminated water.  These illnesses can cause several types of symptoms, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections, but the most commonly reported is diarrhea. Even healthy swimmers can get sick, but the young, elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are especially at risk. If water contact cannot be avoided, or if you are unsure of the cleanliness of the water you have contacted, the best thing to do is wash with clean water and soap. Ingestion of contaminated water and exposure to open cuts or scrapes would be the greatest cause for concern from a health standpoint.

For more information on TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, please visit http://tn.gov/environment/water/.

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