Sewer main break ‘intensifies’ contact advisory along White Oak Creek

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 10:21 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Erosion has caused a sewer main break along a North Jackson creek.

On Wednesday, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality issued a “heightened warning” to avoid contact with White Oak Creek, warning people not to swim, wade or fish there.

The incident occurred after they say a portion of the creek’s bank broke away, causing a 24-inch sewer main to collapse.

According to a news release from the agency, MDEQ’s Office of Pollution Control responded to a complaint Wednesday afternoon after receiving reports from a resident.

The agency’s field team confirmed that a break had occurred along a 24-inch sewer main near the intersection of Ridgewood Road and Adkins Boulevard.

Jackson city officials told MDEQ they were working on both temporary and long-term solutions to address the problem.

[READ: Hinds County secures funding for White Oak Creek erosion that has plagued N. Jackson residents for years]

The news comes some four years after the Pearl River was put under a contact advisory due to high levels of untreated or partially treated wastewater released into it.

Currently, much of the Pearl in Jackson and Byram remains under a contact advisory, as do many of its tributaries.

The heightened warning also comes as the capital city continues to struggle with sanitary sewer overflows, which are major contributors to the problem.

SSOs occur when untreated wastewater leaves the sewage system and enters the environment.

Jackson reported approximately 245 new or ongoing SSOs to the Environmental Protection Agency as part of its May 2023 quarterly report.

Under terms of its sewer consent decree, the city is fined for each overflow that impacts federal waterways and its tributaries.

Jackson entered into the decree in 2013 with EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice to bring its sewer system into compliance with federal clean water standards.

However, representatives for the city and EPA told a federal judge earlier this month that conditions of the sewer system have continued to deteriorate.

District Court Judge Henry Wingate said he plans to put the sewer system under the control of Jackson’s third-party water manager.

The manager was appointed as part of a separate court order handed down last year placing Jackson’s water system under federal receivership.

In a directive handed down Wednesday, Wingate gave attorneys in both the water and sewer cases until June 6 to draw up an order combining the matters.

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