How Recent Heavy Rains Caused This Wastewater Spill

On Friday, February 7, 2020, Charlotte Water crews responded to a broken wastewater pipe off of the Stewart Creek Greenway near 1721 Lela Avenue. Elevated rain levels and flooding from the inclement weather the day before caused part of the creek bank of Stewart Creek to wash away, undermining the wastewater pipe. An estimated 2,163,000 gallons reached Stewart Creek in the Catawba River Watershed.

Heavy rains on February 6, 2020 washed away the stream bank beside Stewart Creek Greenway, causing the wastewater pipe to fall into the creek, and separate at the joints.

Crews set up temporary pipes and multiple pumps to divert the community’s wastewater around the broken pipe to a manhole downstream. This incident did not impact our drinking water quality and no service interruptions occurred. Residents and their pets were encouraged to avoid contact with Stewart Creek.

Greenway Closed

For the safety of the public, Mecklenburg County crews closed Stewart Creek Greenway during repairs.

Greenway closure map updated on February 25, 2020

Next Steps

With additional rain in the forecast, crews will continuously monitor this area to reduce the risk of additional overflows. Heavy equipment will be delivered to the area near the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Lela Avenue.

Crews are also working upstream near Tuckaseegee Road to enhance a stream bank that eroded and could potentially damage wastewater pipe.

Charlotte Water flew a drone over the spill location to analyze the pipe damage and stream bank erosion.

Questions and Answers:

How does CLTWater handle heavy rains and prevent spills?

The underground sanitary sewer pipe network is not designed to handle rain, yet the runoff and flooding from large rains inevitably infiltrate the wastewater pipe network. Overflow basins at the five largest wastewater treatment plants capture and later treat more than 100 million gallons of rainwater mixed with wastewater. Throughout the storm, all plants operated well and no spills occurred at any Charlotte Water plant. These equalization basins (EQ basin) help prevent wastewater from overflowing out of manholes in our community.

CLTWater has also added several large wastewater pipes to help reduce the impact of heavy rains. Crews work to prevent rainwater from getting into the sanitary sewer system and are out investigating our system soon after a storm ends.

What is the largest wastewater spill in CLTWater history?

The three largest spills were all caused by heavy storms eroding creek banks causing pipe collapse.

  1. April 15, 2018, into Long Creek spill (15.4 million gallons).
  2. October 25, 2017, into Mallard Creek (4.8 million gallons).
  3. May 22, 2003, into McAlpine Creek (4.752 million gallons).

Charlotte Water continues to drive down the number of wastewater spills each year. In 2019, Charlotte Water collected and treated 99.99% of the community’s wastewater.

Have a question you’d like to ask? Feel free to contact us: