Environment

A broken sewer pipe in Prospect has dumped more than a million gallons of sewage into Harrods Creek, affecting water quality.

Metropolitan Sewer District say workers learned of a small leak in late November, but the 30-inch-wide pressurized pipe completely gave out last Wednesday, causing the spill.

“The discharge that we were having into Harrods Creek has been contained,” said Sheryl Lauder, Metropolitan Sewer District spokeswoman. “So we’re no longer letting wastewater go out into the waterway.”

University of Louisville River Researcher Tamara Sluss and a student collected samples along the creek and the Ohio River on Friday. Preliminary results show low-levels of dissolved oxygen in the creek, which can make life hard for fish and other aquatic life.

MSD

MSD working on sewage spill near Harrods Creek in Prospect, Kentucky.

Dissolved oxygen levels should be around 90 percent saturation in the creek, but instead they’re about half that, Sluss said.

“So for the gilled species, if the oxygen is low enough they’ll die, so that’s why they’re looking for fish kills,” she said.

Sluss said those levels returned to normal at the creek’s confluence with the Ohio River, indicating that the sewage spill is having little impact on the larger river.

So far, the Metropolitan Sewer District hasn’t seen any impacts to aquatic life.

Crews are now building a protective box to lower workers 35 feet underground to make repairs on the broken sewer pipe. Only then will workers know the cause and severity of the break.

MSD installed the main about six years ago to replace outdated package treatment plants that frequently failed causing sewage to overflow into the creek.

Construction on the pipe is expected to continue through the week.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.