Levee breach releases 6 million gallons of sewage into La. river

BROOKHAVEN, La. -- A levee breach released approximately six million gallons of storm-water-diluted sewage into the East Branch of the Bogue Chitto River in Louisiana.

Sister station WWL-TV reports that the Bogue Chitto River is now under a "water contact advisory" for it's entire length in Louisiana according to the Louisiana Department of Health and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The release occurred at the City of Brookhaven's sewage plant in Mississippi. The release is under control, according to officials, and no more sewage is expected to flow into the river. Scientists with the DEQ estimate that the contaminated river water will reach Louisiana by Sunday. 

“Because of this release of raw sewage into the river, we are advising citizens that contact with the water could present a health risk,” Louisiana State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said. "Although all waterways will have some level of contamination, this sewage release has the possibility of elevating the levels of bacteria. People should take precautions to lessen their chance of getting sick from exposure to the water.”

Microorganisms can enter the body through the mouth, nose, eyes and ears, as well as cuts and wounds. Illnesses associated with poor water quality include diarrhea, sore throats, stomach cramps or vomiting. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune system are at a greater risk of getting sick.

The Department of Health offers these additional guidelines that should always be observed:

  • Do not swim near a drainage pipe or in a ditch, or near runoff or littered areas.
  • Do not swim in areas with warnings against swimming.
  • Avoid swimming after heavy rains.
  • Avoid ingesting or swallowing the water.
  • Minimize immersing your head when swimming.
  • Avoid swimming with an open cut or wound.
  • Shower after exposure to the water.

(© 2016 WWL)


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