Jul 07, 2020

Pollution Impacting Cahaba River of Alabama's Water Quality

Jefferson County Environmental Services issued an advisory to stay out of waters along several points of the Cahaba River due to pollution

water quality

On Jun. 24, Jefferson County Environmental Services issued an advisory to stay out of waters along several points of the Cahaba River due to pollution from a sewage leak.

There is also sediment pollution coming downstream from Bibb County, reported the Shelby County Reporter.

The advisory affected areas of the Cahaba River between Highway 31 in Hoover and Highway 52 in Helena. Residents and visitors of these areas in Alabama were asked to stay out of the water. According to David Butler, Staff Attorney and Riverkeeper for Cahaba Riverkeeper, a contractor working on a project hit a sewer main that caused the original leakage.

“Jefferson County posted an advisory to stay out of the river,” said Butler. “Our results after testing the river were still high on Thursday, which we attributed to high rain and not the sewer leakage. By Friday, the results showed the leakage was not really an issue anymore.”

The Cahaba Riverkeeper publishes its “Swim Guide” each Thursday to give a snapshot of water quality along the river, including factors such as E. Coli levels, water temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and pH balance. At the last testing, several affected areas showed E. Coli levels that are considered to be very high, which ultimately led to the advisory.

Another factor impacting water quality along the Cahaba River is attributed to sediment runoff from a Mercedes-Benz Complex in Woodstock, reported the Shelby County Reporter.

According to Butler, the tests first showed sediment leaving the site into Caffee Creek, which feeds into the Cahaba River, in 2018. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management sent the plant a warning letter and did an inspection in 2019 after the fact, but no action come of this. 

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