1 Million Gallons of Untreated, Raw Sewage Flowing Toward Dallas' White Rock Lake

Drinking water is not affected; TCEQ, TPWD to test creek, lake during investigation of sewage spill

All water recreation activities at Dallas' White Rock Lake are closed after a construction crew ruptured a sewer line and sent more than 1 million gallons of untreated raw sewage into White Rock Creek, officials say.

Google Maps/NBC 5 News
A sewer line ruptured during construction at a business along Plano Parkway in Plano (red circle) spilled 1 million gallons of untreated waste that flowed into White Rock Creek (outlined in yellow) Wednesday. The creek joins White Rock Lake about 12 miles downstream to the southeast.

The North Texas Municipal Water District told NBC 5 Thursday afternoon a sanitary sewer line was punctured Wednesday by a construction crew boring into a car dealership's parking lot near the intersection of Preston Road and the President George Bush Turnpike.

The water district said the 16-inch line was repaired by 3 a.m. Thursday, but until that time dumped out 1,069,000 gallons of waste that ended up in White Rock Creek.

From that area, White Rock Creek winds its way 12 miles through Plano and North Dallas to the confluence with White Rock Lake. Texas Sky Ranger flew over the creek Thursday and noticed several dead, floating fish in the creek.

Officials with the NTMWD confirmed drinking water is not affected and that White Rock Lake is not a water supply for Dallas Water Utilities. The immediate risk to humans and wildlife comes from coming into contact with the raw sewage.

Thursday afternoon, the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department closed all water recreational activities at White Rock Lake, including the dog park, as a precaution.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are investigating and are expected to conduct assessments of the creek and lake.

Officials with the water district told NBC 5 that dry weather and no rain in the forecast may help slow the sewage's progress and make cleanup easier.

"The district and the entities are looking at how far did that wastewater travel into the creek and then what type of cleanup and remediation needs to be done," said Denise Hickey, with the NTMWD. "We don't have a timeline of how long it will take for that flow to actually reach White Rock Lake."

Dallas City Councilman Mark Clayton, who said he learned of the spill late Thursday morning, warned the wastewater could flow downstream into Dallas and White Rock Lake, leading to a fish kill, unpleasant odor and the restriction of lake activities and access due to potential health hazards.

"I just found out that there was a chemical spill yesterday in Plano that has the potential to affect White Rock Lake and Creek," Clayton wrote on Facebook. "Staff is monitoring the situation but it might require the closure of the Dog Park along with select lake activities in an abundance of caution."

The average swimming pool holds about 20,000 gallons of water -- the volume of the spill estimated by the NTMWD is 50 times that amount.

Editor's Note: Information previously included in this report that was obtained from the North Texas Municipal Water District said the construction site where the sewage leak originated was located at Toyota of Plano. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality told NBC 5 late Thursday afternoon the address of the leak was 5930 W. Plano Parkway, which belongs to Audi Plano. We regret the error.

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