Memphis Water Treatment Plant to Pump Sewage into Mississippi River Following Failure

Plant will not be fully operational for 5-7 days

Memphis to pump sewage into Mississippi River following water plant failure

Following a failure of the Stiles Treatment Facility, the city of Memphis will have to temporarily pump sewage into the Mississippi River. The 41-year-old facility lost power and had several mechanical redundancies due to high water, causing pumps to stop working, which inevitably led to the sewage leak.

According to City of Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht, the treatment facility will not be fully operational for 5 to 7 days, though it became partially operational 12 hours after the initial announcement from Knecht.

Knecht claimed in a statement that pumping the leaked sewage into the Mississippi River will affect the least amount of people and businesses. He also has assured residents that the incident will not affect the drinking water quality.

“It’s unfortunate, but at least it’s going to minimally impact businesses and residences. It’s what plants have to do in these conditions,” Knecht said. “Under extreme circumstances, you have to do what’s needed to protect public health and safety.”

The incident follows a 2012 settlement between the U.S. EPA, the Department of Justice and other agencies, wherein Memphis officials agreed to enact $250 million in wastewater infrastructure improvements.

Most of the $250 million in improvements will come in the form of a $170 million overhaul to the city’s aging sewer system, making the city’s decisions of allocation for the remainder of the funds all the more important.

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