Officials stopped a leak that caused more than 100,000 gallons of sewage to flow into a creek in the northwestern corner of Smith County.
Tyler Water Utilities, owned by the city of Tyler, said Wednesday morning that the spill happened around 5 p.m. on Tuesday underneath Black Fork Creek, near the northwestern part of Loop 323.
The suspected cause was the collapse of a 42-inch sewer main in the creek bank caused by erosion from heavy rainfall, the city said in the news release sent around 10 a.m. Wednesday.
As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, pumps had stopped and diverted the flow of wastewater into Black Fork Creek, according to a follow-up news release. Crews planned to continue to assess the damage for a repair plan of the sewer main.
This is the second time in the past year that the city has announced a major spill in the area. A similar spill in the same creek was announced in November.
Both spills have been separate from the municipal drinking water system, which is not connected to the municipal sewer system, according to the city.
No boil water notice has been issued for people with municipal drinking water, but people using private wells within a half-mile of the spill are advised to boil or distill water.
The city’s sewage system includes pipes all around the county, including outside of city limits. The 42-inch pipes are among the largest in the city’s sewer system, the city said in November.
“There is nobody in that area that has a private drinking well in that area that’s being affected that we know of, and that is mandated language by (the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality),” Jenny Wells, a city spokeswoman, said around 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Wells said there will be no service interruptions for municipal sewer customers, but there will be a lane closure on the nearby portion of Loop 323 until the repairs are completed.
At 3 p.m., she said city workers were still in the process of building a temporary road and structure to get to the broken main. Once they plug the hole, they’ll be able to use pumps to get the sewage out, she said.
“It is in a very, very marshy area. … Once we get in there and stop that flow we’ll have a better idea of what the repair would need to be,” Wells said. Additionally, she said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is monitoring the situation.
“We’re working to get it taken care of as quickly as possible and making sure that it will be a long-term solution so that it won’t be an issue again,” Wells said.
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