BY SCOTT SHENK/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Thursday August 27, 2015
Two days after a sewage leak closed two parks and the city dock, Stafford County officials deemed the waters of the Rappahannock River safe.
The sewage spilled into Falls Run on Monday. The creek is a tributary that flows into the Rappahannock near the Falmouth Bridge.
Old Mill Park and the dock were reopened Wednesday afternoon. Falmouth Park was slated to open this morning.
The county said in a release Wednesday that the river water was tested and it was determined that “bacterial levels in the river are below state standards and the water is safe.”
The county reported that the sewage spill was caused by “the failure of a plug in the pipe system.” Crews repaired the plug, “and plans are being made for permanent repairs to prevent any future failures of the pipe,” according to the county.
Falls Run flows beneath Washington Street, which is lined with several older houses. David Allen lives next to the creek.
On Wednesday afternoon, he said the smell was overwhelming when the leak happened.
“This was full [of] running black water,” he said, waving his hand over the shallow creek that runs about 10 yards from the house he has rented for three years. “I used to play in it with my dog.”
Now he won’t let his dog outside unattended for fear the terrier mix will get in the creek.
Allen said he thinks there was another sewage spill into Falls Run about three weeks ago. He believes Monday’s spill was worse than the county reported, and that the sewage spilled from the pump station, not just the pipe. He had fuzzy pictures on his cellphone showing what appeared to be standing dark water at the pump station.
“This is not something they don’t know about,” he said.
The county hasn’t reported how much sewage spilled into the tributary.
A message left with for county spokeswoman Wednesday was not immediately returned.
The county has five days to write a report and send it to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said Mark Miller, with the Northern Regional Office’s pollution response department.
Once DEQ receives the report, Miller said the department will determine whether a warning or “notice of violation” is warranted.
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