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Report: Half-billion gallons of raw sewage leaked into river

Nearly half a billion gallons of raw sewage leaked into the Pearl River in the first three months of 2020, according to a quarterly report released by the city of Jackson, Mississippi.

Now, an organization focused on clean water is urging city and state leaders to issue a new advisory on the contents of the water, news outlets reported.

Overflows of Jackson’s West Bank Interceptor generally can occur when water flow exceeds the pumping capacity of the Savanna Wastewater Treatment Plant, according to the quarterly report. Excessive rain, high river levels, equipment failure, or a combination of the three can cause insufficient pumping capacity.

There was near-record rainfall in the first quarter of the year, the Clarion Ledger reported citing National Weather Service records. January had the second-highest rainfall in 100 years with nearly 14 inches (36 centimeters) falling at the Jackson airport.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality issued a water content advisory last year, which is still online. But, Pearl Riverkeeper executive director Abby Braman says the public should be reminded.

“We asked MDEQ to reissue the water content advisory in some way and notify the public again. MDEQ declined to do so,” Braman told WLBT-TV.

The city said it works to inform the public of the dangers of the water during flood events.

“We always tell folks in all of our press releases stay out of the flood water,” Jackson Department of Public Works director Bob Miller told WJTV-TV. “There’s all sorts of things in that flood water that you don’t want to be exposed to.”

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