Approximately 25,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into Bull Creek near Old Spicewood Springs Road on Saturday, according to Austin Water.
The water utility updated KXAN that crews should be working on removing excess sewer water from the creek until Monday afternoon. Austin Water explained to KXAN that this sewage spill was not the result of any illegal activity, but rather the gradual buildup of things which are not supposed to go down sinks and toilets (grease, rags, wipes, etc.) which clogged the sewer line and sent water into the creek.
Drinking water was not affected, the water utility said. People who live nearby were also notified to stay out of the creek while the spill happened.
Austin Water staff estimate that 165 fish were killed because of the spill. Crews were able to pump sewage from the creek and clean up solid material that flowed in.
A spokesperson for Austin Water said crews responded to a report of sewage overflow from a manhole around 4:30 p.m Saturday. The city says crews were able to unclog the line and stop the sanitary sewer overflow before 6 p.m.
Austin Water says their customers can help prevent overflows like this one by not putting grease, rags, wipes or anything else that can clog sinks or toilets.
Kevin Koeller, the division manager for Collections Systems Engineering at Austin Water, explained that in this case, wastewater left the city’s collection system due to the clog, traveled on the ground, and entered into the creek. Koeller said that incidents like this happen throughout the course of the year in areas around Austin.
“No system is foolproof,” Koeller said. “We ask customers to do their best to not dispose of wipes in the toilet.”
With Thanksgiving coming up, he also reminds Austinites to not dump the grease from their cooking down the drain as that can clog up the line as well.
When it comes to the toilet, Koeller says the only things that should be disposed of there are toilet paper and human waste.
Read more from Chelsea Moreno and Alyssa Board with KXAN here.