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Northport Wastewater Leak: Repairs to be Made

Northport Wastewater Leak: Repairs to be Made Wikimedia Commons

A weekend wastewater leak in Northport sent emergency crews scrambling for a temporary fix, and now permanent repairs will be made. The 20-inch wastewater force main broke on Fifth Street near downtown Northport, resulting in the massive sewage spill.

In a public notice, the City of Northport said four sewer pump stations had active overflows: pumps at Fifth Street and Lurleen Wallace Boulevard, Fifth Street at Kentuck Park, Airport Road and Upper Smith Creek near Smithfield Gardens.

The notice, posted on Facebook on July 2, also indicated that the overflows drained into Harper Creek, Mill Creek, Upper Smith Creek and the Black Warrior River. Reports have quoted city officials as saying up to 100,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled; others say that number could be “several million.”

On Sunday, an update was posted by the City of Northport, noting that temporary repairs to the main break had been made and that the permanent repairs would begin on Tuesday, adding that Fifth Street would be closed all day while crews worked. The planned closure was delayed, according to a City statement, "in order to obtain the parts necessary to make permanent repairs to the force main."

In addition, the City says it is working with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management on any clean up and testing.

City officials now say that Fifth Street in downtown Northport will close on Wednesday at 9 a.m. - and that it will remain closed, until all permanent repairs are made, from 26th to 30th Avenues.

Meanwhile, the Black Warrior Riverkeeper on Tuesday expressed concern about the way the situation was handled by Northport, via a post on social media.  

Black Warrior Riverkeeper believes the City of Northport was not prepared to handle the upset conditions with their wastewater collection system, did not have an adequate spill response plan and protocol in place, should have made sure an understanding of what happened was shared with city personnel available 24hrs. at the city's Emergency Water/Wastewater Number so the inquiring public could be informed, and could have done far more to ensure that adequate public notice was provided via the Tuscaloosa County Health Department and local media outlets - and most importantly - at local parks, river access points, and boat launches in the immediate area of the spill & downstream of the spill.

Crews were expected to be making permanent repairs to the broken force main on Wednesday, which means Northport residents: Fifth Street will be closed.

Black Warrior Riverkeeper has created an interactive Google map of the spill area, which can be viewed here.

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