According to Mobile Baykeeper and the State Health Department, between Mobile and Baldwin County, there were 20 different sewage overflows with more than 500,000 gallons of sewage spilled into our local waterways from one weekend alone.
In Baldwin County, nearly every city and every utility is spending millions to either keep up or stay ahead of population growth. But for now, what goes down the drains is still a big problem.
When it rains it pours, but when it comes to raw or even partially treated sewage overflowing, how much should we tolerate?
Cade Kistler is with environmental watchdog group Mobile Baykeeper.
"Right now I can't say we've seen much progress. Last year we had 26.9 million gallons between Mobile and Baldwin counties of raw sewage and partially untreated sewage spilled into waterways. so we have a lot of work to do and until we see those numbers go down we will not be satisfied," said Kistler.
In Baldwin County, more than 100,000 gallons of sewage overflowed in three major cities this weekend. Sewer plants in Robertsdale, Fairhope and Foley all were overwhelmed by the flash flooding.
"There's a lot of pollutants things people put down the drain from household cleaners to pesticides that are also in there. That will be out there for a long time, so it is alarming to see 125,000 gallons of sewage overflowing," said Kistler.
All of the spills in Baldwin County this weekend happened during non-peak usage times, 2:00 or 3:00 am. Engineers say it was just too much rain.
In Foley Rivera Utilities is in the midst of a two year major overhaul and expansion.
"We have plans to expand the wastewater treatment plant. !e are currently permitted for 2 million gallons a day. This new expansion will get us to about 3.5 million gallons a day, and that project bids this month February 22nd," said Tony Schachle with Riviera Utilities.
Robertsdale and Fairhope are also replacing miles of old drainage pipes to accommodate growth and it will come at a cost.
"For every utility they've proposed rate increases to cover those debt services of that capital improvement plan," said Richard Peterson with Fairhope City Utilities.
Mobile Baykeeper says progress takes time and they will keep the pressure on.