Usually, wastewater spills don’t draw much attention, but the city of High Point had three such events this week, with the latest being on Wednesday, March 22, when an estimated 12,600 gallons near 274 Dorothy Street spilled into the city’s waters.

The untreated wastewater spilled into an unnamed tributary that leads to Kennedy Mill Creek. That spill was determined to be caused by grease and flushable wipes, which created a sewer blockage.  Another spill earlier in the week was due to that same reason and a wastewater spill not long before that was caused by vandalism when someone intentionally blocked water flow by piling up bricks.

High Point Public Services Director Robby Stone said this week that a lot of the problems could be avoided it people just refrained from flushing wipes down the toilet or pouring grease down the drain. He said grease may be liquid when it’s hot, however, once it goes down the drain, it cools and solidifies.

Wipes get tangled up with other debris in the pipes and can cause major clogs that lead to spills.

The public can always find out about every spill because NC House Bill 1160 – which the NC General Assembly enacted in July 1999 – requires that all “municipalities, animal operations, industries and others who operate waste handling systems issue a news release when a waste spill of 1,000 gallons or more reaches surface waters.”

Stone said no wastewater spill is too small to be concerned about since it’s a very bad thing when untreated wastewater makes it into the environment.

“One gallon is a big number to me because it shouldn’t happen at all,” Stone said.

He added that many people don’t realize that the things they flush and put down the drain might make it out of their individual drainage system but meet up with other debris later and cause big problems.

Stone also said that some wastewater spills are caused by powerful rainstorms but he added that those types of spills were rare.