At 7:20 a.m. on Friday, July 14, Charlotte Water received a call reporting a Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) near 700 Farmhurst Drive. Charlotte Water crews responded to discover an active spill of wastewater discharging into Kings Branch, a tributary of Sugar Creek. The wastewater appeared to be escaping from a 21” sanitary sewer pipe that had separated at a joint. Between 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., crews worked to assess the pipe failure and gain access for heavy equipment. Access to this particular stretch of Kings Branch was hindered by a ¼ mile thick streamside zone of trees, vines, underbrush and dense bamboo.
In order to control wastewater spills, crews must set up pumps and hoses to collect the wastewater coming to the break area, bypass the break in the pipe and send the wastewater to a nearby manhole so that the wastewater can continue to flow to the treatment plant. Bypass pumps arrived at approximately 2:15 p.m. At 6:20 p.m. the bypass operation was completely set up and wastewater was no longer spilling into the creek.
Spill Volume & Location
Charlotte Water estimates that approximately 201,850 gallons of wastewater entered Kings Branch. It was first reported that the total would be close to 180,000 gallons but revised the spill volume once the spill was contained. Spill volume is based on the duration of the spill, the diameter of the pipe and the fullness of the pipe. Kings Branch is located near Archdale Drive and South Boulevard. The creek flows from the break point about 3 miles before it meets with Sugar Creek just south of I-485. Sugar Creek flows from that point through South Carolina about 8 miles where it meets with the Catawba River.
Nearby residents were notified of the event through social media posts to NextDoor, door hangers and media notification. Downstream water supply operators and other stakeholders were notified of the spill via email. Union County (NC), Lancaster County (SC) Water and Sewer District, Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority, Duke Energy, Camden (SC) experienced no impacts to their water supply. The media reported that the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control issued No Swim Advisories at some Catawba River access points until sampling tests could confirm any impact.
Charlotte Water crews have monitored the bypass operation 24 hours a day to ensure no secondary spills occur. A contractor has been gathering the necessary materials and equipment to make the repair as well as improving site access. Repair construction is expected to begin Friday, July 21.