News Briefs: North Miami Wastewater Spill Raises Virus Concerns

Also in this week's sewer and water news, lack of access to clean water in the Navajo Nation is fueling a COVID-19 crisis in the southwest

WSVN News reports that a spill at a North Miami, Florida, wastewater treatment facility is causing concerns about its potential to spread COVID-19, as officials are reporting a high level of the virus is present in the wastewater.

Officials say about 1.8 million gallons of wastewater was spilled after heavy rainfall, largely thanks to clog caused by cleaning wipes and paper towels, possibly being used as alternatives to toilet paper amidst the shortage.

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease professor at Florida International University, tells the news station there’s a concern about the virus with this particular spill. “There have been very large quantity of virus in the wastewater. It’s a real concern, and as long as there is virus circulating, it’s a way to continue the outbreak. The concern is if we have any kind of break in the sewage system or a failure or a spillage.” 

Navajo Nation's Lack of Clean Water Fuels COVID-19 Crisis

In other news, reports are circulating that a lack of access to clean water in the Navajo Nation is fueling a COVID-19 crisis in parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

Between 15% and 40% of Navajo Nation households lack access to clean, running water. The Navajo have also historically been left out of water infrastructure projects due to its unique legal status, according to NPR.

In addition to that, contamination from mining in the region has left water supplies tainted and many Navajo people with pre-existing conditions that put them at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications.

Heavy Rains Cause 4.7 Million Gallons of Wastewater to Spill in North Carolina

Heavy rainfall in North Carolina led to a discharge of 4.7 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Cape Fear River, according to the Fayetteville Public Works Commission.

The discharge occurred at the commission’s Rockfish Creek Water Reclamation Facility.

“The 4.7 million gallon spill happened between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. as a result of equipment failure during a period of heavy rainfall,” according to a news release. “As the plant was reaching peak capacity because the excess water, a mechanical failure occurred during the final stages of the treatment process. As a result, partially-treated wastewater was released into the river before it completed the filtration process.”


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