Sewage leak plugged

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crews working on a damaged sewage pipe near Wilroy Road have stopped the flow of untreated sewage into Shingle Creek, but the road still will be closed for the better part of this month while repairs continue.

The discharge was stopped at 5 a.m. Thursday with the successful installation of an alternate piping system, according to Hampton Roads Sanitation District spokeswoman Nancy Munnikhuysen. That was about a day earlier than anticipated.

Crews now will work on installing a valve, which she expected to be completed by Thursday evening.

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“If that goes well, there will be no additional discharge,” Munnikhuysen wrote in an email.

An estimated total of 18.3 million gallons escaped from the 9-inch hole discovered on Oct. 29, Munnikhuysen said. HRSD believes Hurricane Sandy’s effects contributed to the damage.

“Now that wastewater is flowing around the section of pipe where the leak occurred during Sandy, contractors can begin the permanent repair,” Munnikhuysen wrote.

The damaged section is buried in wetlands adjacent to Wilroy Road. The damaged section will be replaced, she said.

The road will remain closed throughout the repairs, she said. Residents in the affected area still are able to get to their homes, and school buses have adjusted their routes during the closure.

HRSD scientists are monitoring water quality, Munnikhuysen wrote. People should avoid recreational activities on the waterways. HRSD is exploring the use of technology to minimize odors, she wrote.

The leak has caused “catastrophic” bacteria levels in the waterway, Nansemond River Preservation Alliance water quality committee chairman Nick Worth said earlier this week.

Samples taken after the leak began show record highs in the amount of E. coli bacteria, nearly 10 times higher than the previous recorded highs in that location from 1985, he said.

“It’s worse than the worst in the last 25 years,” Worth said.

Residents with questions or concerns can call the HRSD public information office at 460-7056 or email