Health department lifts advisory for Shingle Creek

Published 9:42 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Virginia Department of Health has lifted the advisory for the Shingle Creek area that had been in place since a damaged sewer main leaked into it.

People had been advised to stay away from the creek and from its confluence with the Nansemond River — below Route 32 and Main Street — to the confluence of the Western Branch of the river near Sack Point in a May 1 advisory.

Recent lab reports indicate that bacteria levels have returned to their typical levels, according to a state health department news release.


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It said water testing that took place May 10 indicated that the area around Shingle Creek was no longer affected by the sewage release, though it said bacteria levels tend to be higher than state thresholds for swimming or primary contact.

The city reported that the sewer force main began leaking April 29 with the leak stopping May 6 following repairs.

During the repairs, it was determined that the estimated amount of sewage released was much less than the initially estimated release of 100,000 gallons per day.

The state health department said bacteria levels in any natural body of water are variable and generally increase due to runoff that takes place after it rains. It advises the following precautionary measures to prevent illness while participating in recreation activities in any natural waters:

  • Avoid contact with any area of the water where there is a foul odor, dead or dying fish, or discolored water.
  • Avoid swimming for a few days after heavy rain because bacteria levels are likely to be higher and disease-causing organisms are more likely to be present after it rains due to pollution from land runoff and other sources.
  • Avoid recreational activities that may result in ingestion of water in natural waterways for at least three days following rain events.
  • Promptly wash any areas exposed to natural waterways with soap and water.
  • Anyone with underlying health conditions affecting the immune system may be more susceptible to infections while recreating because there is likely to be some level of bacteria, parasites and possibly viruses present in natural bodies of water.
  • Anyone experiencing adverse health effects after contact with the waterbody should seek medical care and notify your health practitioner of the water exposure.