High Point and Greensboro sometimes experience wastewater spills and usually those are no big deal. 

However, the very heavy rainfall on Thursday, Feb. 6, created major wastewater issues in Guilford County, with overflows and pump failures causing over a million gallons of untreated wastewater to escape into the environment in High Point alone.  

In High Point, the wastewater spills kept the city’s communications department busy the day after the storm.  By law, wastewater spills have to be announced to the public, and, under normal circumstances, High Point might put out a press release listing a spill of a few thousand gallons every few months or so.  However, the day after the Feb. 6 flooding, High Point sent out a press release with the details of 10 wastewater spills attached, and, later, sent out two more releases announcing spills that together totaled over a million gallons.

The worst local spill from the storm was a High Point discharge of an estimated 742,500 gallons at 5783 Riverdale Drive – with that untreated sewage flowing into Deep River, a tributary to Randleman Lake.  According to city officials, that was due to “severe natural causes and pump failure.”

High Point also announced a wastewater spill of roughly 357,000 gallons on the Richland Creek Outfall near 1305 Jackson Lake Road, with that untreated water flowing into Richland Creek, a tributary of the Deep River.  That spill was also caused by “severe natural causes” that emanated from the Feb. 6 storm.

High Point has notified the state’s Division of Water Quality, which is currently reviewing the matter.

Also during the storm, the City of Greensboro saw nearly 700,000 gallons of wastewater released.  In Greensboro, the largest event was an eight-hour discharge of 240,000 gallons from a manhole on Emerywood Road, with that untreated water flowing into South Buffalo Creek.

Wastewater – which is any water used by humans that hasn’t been treated – can cause disease, stench and other problems when it’s released into the environment.

In July 1999, the NC General Assembly enacted a law that requires local governments, animal operations, and others that operate waste handling systems, to issue a news release when a spill of 1,000 gallons or more reaches surface waters.