Jackson advises of Eubanks Creek sewage issue days after leak spotted

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:28 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The city of Jackson issued a water contact advisory for Eubanks Creek on Wednesday after a sewage leak was reported days earlier.

A tip from a concerned citizen came Friday to nonprofit Pearl Riverkeeper.

The non-profit said it reached out to Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, which launched an investigation into the leak.

Documents obtained by WLBT show that MDEQ contacted the city about the problem Friday. That Monday, the city notified the agency that it was in the process of setting up a bypass pump.

In all, contractors laid 300 feet of a sewer line as part of that effort.

The leak and subsequent cleanup was reported by WLBT on Tuesday--a day before the city’s notice. Under the Clean Water Act, the city has a responsibility to notice the public of these issues.

The city has yet to respond for comment.

Meanwhile, a major cleanup effort to keep Jackson beautiful had to be canceled due to the sewage leak at Eubanks Creek.

Scheduled for September 18, the 5th annual Pearl River Clean Sweep would have drawn hundreds of boy scouts and other volunteers to the area.

Since 2017, Pearl Riverkeepers, the non-profit organization behind the sweep, has cleaned up 130,000 pounds of trash at 25 locations along the river.

“This is a big deal for us,” Abby Braman said, executive director of Pearl Riverkeepers said. “It’s our big signature event that we do every year.”

But it won’t happen in 2021.

And Braman says this latest spill is one of many problems resulting from Jackson’s age-old infrastructure.

“Some of those sewer lines were built in the 1920s, and it’s 1,009 miles of sewer line, so it’s going to take a huge investment to be able to get it to where it needs to be,” Abby Braman said, executive director of Pearl Riverkeepers.

Braman believes one of the issues stems from the makeup of the state’s actual dirt.

“This Yazoo clay that we have in Mississippi, which is our issues with our roadways as well. It basically causes our roads to buckle, and that can also have issues with our sewer line,” Braman said. “So basically when we have heavy rain or issues with freeze, as we had in the wintertime, that Yazoo clay can kind of shrink away from a sewer line and leave it exposed under the ground with nothing supporting it underneath. And that sewer line can crack.”

The other issue is the age of the city’s sewer lines.

“Anytime you have heavy rain, extra water gets in there... it causes the whole sewage system to get overwhelmed,” Braman said. “And that’s why the sewer overflows.”

Meanwhile, Braman says Eubanks Creek is one of many places off-limits due to contaminated Pearl River waters.

MDEQ’s website lists at least a dozen more advisories that warn people to avoid fishing and swimming along the river.

The agency issued some of the contact water advisories months ago, and others have been active for years.

The non-profit organization also invites the community to join their efforts to do what they can - when they can - until something changes.

“We have a water guardians program where you can adopt a little section of the river. You can adopt that section and do periodic cleanups on it,” Braman said. “Just do your citizen science, report to us what you’re seeing, and we all come together as a community, we can get a hold on this issue together.”

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