If you have been saying to yourself, “This rain stinks,” over the several days of downpours in North Texas, you may have been more right than you realized.
Many cities in North Texas – Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Grand Prairie, Irving, Lancaster and Hurst among them – have seen their sanitary sewer systems overflowing. An infiltration of rainwater has forced feces-infested sewer water up and out of the pipes, bringing toilet paper, soiled diapers and other items along with it.
“It is not 100 percent raw sewage. There is raw sewage in there, I am not going to lie, because it is mingling in the pipes. But it is diluted by the rainwater,” said Mary Gugliuzza of the Fort Worth Water Department. “This would not be happening if it wasn’t for the rain that is taking up the capacity in the sewer system.”
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As of Wednesday there have been approximately 41 incidents of sewer lines overflowing throughout the city of Fort Worth over the past week. As a point of comparison, there were approximately 100 sanitary sewer overflows in Fort Worth in all of 2017, Gugliuzza said.
“Ideally we would have zero of these, but that is a real impossible goal to attain,” Gugliuzza said.
In Lancaster, sewer lines have backed up onto people’s private property.
“You can look at the pipe and see the feces coming out,” Rusty Cody, a homeowner said.
A statement from the city acknowledged the concern:
“Unprecedented rainfall in the North Texas region is entering Lancaster’s wastewater collection system and have caused discharges in low-lying areas within the City. We are monitoring our lines to address the effect of the heavy rainfall on our sewer lines.”
In Plano, the city’s Public Works Department noted that as many as 100,000 gallons of sewage had mixed with storm water as of Tuesday and was constantly spilling into White Rock Creek and will eventually head toward White Rock Lake in Dallas.
The sewage overflows are not expected to impact the quality of drinking water.