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Officials: Avoid Contact With Long Creek

Robbinsville leaders suspect their aging water plant is responsible for releasing sewage into a nearby creek. Now state environmental authorities are asking residents to avoid part of Long Creek. They've recorded high levels of fecal coliform in a section of the creek near the treatment facility.  Residents are urged to avoid swimming, fishing, or drinking water in that area.

Robbinsville Mayor Bobby Smith says the old water treatment plant was not properly maintained by town government over the years. He says a new one being built should be operating within a couple months.

By Rex Hodge

Press release from N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources:

RALEIGH- State and local officials are encouraging people to avoid contact with a Graham County creek after recent water quality sampling revealed that partially treated wastewater is making its way into the creek due to a malfunction at the Robbinsville wastewater treatment plant.

An official with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources first discovered the problem while doing some routine water quality sampling last Thursday in Long Creek near the plant. Tests revealed fecal coliform in the water downstream of the plant exceeded levels considered safe by the state. High fecal coliform counts can indicate that disease causing bacteria are present.

Public water supplies do not appear to be affected by the malfunction, as there are no public drinking water sources in the affected area downstream of the wastewater treatment plant.

However, state officials are urging people in the area to avoid all contact with the water in Long Creek. In other words, no one should fish, drink from, swim in or otherwise come into contact with the water in Long Creek.

State and Graham County officials, meanwhile, continue to investigate the problem and seek a solution to properly treat the wastewater before it is discharged into Long Creek.   

Long Creek is about a quarter mile north of where the creek joins the Cheoah River in western North Carolina. The Cheoah River flows to Santeetlah Lake on the Tennessee border.   


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