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Charlotte sees increase in sewage spills

A Charlotte Water supervisor uses a Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool to detect sewer line blockages.
A Charlotte Water supervisor uses a Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool to detect sewer line blockages. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Water reports an uptick in sewage spills after years of steady declines.

Spills of untreated wastewater are a problem because they expose streams and creeks – and the people who touch them – to bacteria and other disease-carrying pathogens.

The city utility, in an annual report released this week, logged 224 spills in the fiscal year that ended in June. That compares to 177 spills in the previous year.

More than 207,000 gallons of sewage spilled, up slightly from the previous year. Charlotte Water had total spills of more than a half-million gallons in 2014 and 2012.

The utility says the rolling five-year average of spills continues to decline, a trend it credits to programs to clean, replace or reline older sewer pipes.

Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins, meanwhile, has produced a comprehensive map of sewage spills across the river basin between 2014 and May.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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