New test results show high levels of bacteria in Pottsburg Creek


JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – New test results show high levels of bacteria in Pottsburg Creek, where a pump malfunctioned over the weekend at a sewage site on Holiday Road, the News4JAX I-TEAM has learned.

Although it is a popular spot for fishing and boating, at the moment people are told not to drink, swim or fish in the water.

JEA has confirmed with I-TEAM that crews will continue to sample and test the water daily as its investigation into the spill continues.

I-TEAM reported Monday that about 90,000 gallons of raw sewage overflowed into Pottsburg Creek, a waterway in the Grove Park neighborhood of Jacksonville that empties directly into the St. Johns River, according to a report filed by JEA with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Sky 4 drone video appears to show part of the leak in the creek.

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JEA said a pump at a regional sewage site broke down on Sunday afternoon while contractors were working on it. The overflow incident, according to the report, lasted from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Holiday Road lift station is where sewage, including toilet sewage, goes before it reaches one of JEA’s treatment centres.

The I-TEAM went to the scene after obtaining the report from the DEP. The neighborhood near the leak had a stench of excrement. A garden sign next to the road informed neighbors of a sewage overflow, urging them to avoid fishing, swimming or drinking the water.

News4JAX flew the Sky 4 drone over the area and noticed murky brown water. Neighbors, who didn’t know what happened, said it wasn’t a pleasant sight or smell.

“It’s a surprise,” said resident Mike Best, who lives nearby. “I certainly don’t want sewage in our waterways.”

JEA officials told I-TEAM that contractors are carrying out renovations on this treatment plant, installing new pipes and valves, as well as odor control and a backup generator. They were still investigating what caused the overflow. They said multiple contractors were involved and they did not know who, if anyone, was at fault.

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News4JAX requested the names of the contracting companies from JEA.

“The failure occurred with the bypass system – which helps the lift station operate – during a construction project to upgrade the system,” JEA media relations manager Karen McCallister said. . “The affected floor area was sanitized and hydrated lime was applied to the affected floor to kill bacteria and reduce odors.”

She said that as the investigation and remediation continued, the site was back up and running as normal.

“JEA began taking samples from the affected water area today (January 17),” she wrote. “Initial results are expected late morning Jan. 18. JEA notified state regulatory agencies Jan. 16 and placed sanitary sewer overflow signs near the release advising residents not to swim, fishing or drinking from nearby bodies of water.”

“There needs to be more oversight,” Best said.

He is upset by the situation, especially because in the summer of 2021, he helped the I-TEAM discover contractors who were pumping dirty water from the creek a few blocks away. They were using private property along the waterway to swap land for a construction site when Best used his drone to discover milky water being pumped into the creek.

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DEP investigators found the work to be unauthorized and potentially dangerous.

“It’s even worse, I think,” Best said. “It is raw sewage. Whereas there, it was only dirty water.

Jacksonville City Councilman Kevin Carrico, who represents the area, told I-TEAM he would work to find out what happened.

“I am shocked to hear of another impact on Pottsburg Creek yesterday. I am working with JEA officials to understand what happened and what is going to be done about it. Pottsburg is a hidden gem here in the Southside and I will do everything possible to preserve and protect it,” Carrico said in a statement to News4JAX.

In 2016, News4JAX reported that 1.1 million gallons of sewage overflowed into Pottsburg Creek during and after Hurricane Matthew passed through the area.

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