Department of Health lifts advisory after sewage spill at Shingle Creek, Nansemond River in Suffolk last month


SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Health has lifted its advisory after a sewer main broke in the area of Shingle Creek and the Nansemond River in Suffolk last month. The public may resume recreational activities on the water in this area.

VDH says the damaged main was originally found on Thursday, April 29. On May 1, the public was advised to avoid contact with waters in this vicinity of Shingle Creek and from its confluence with the Nansemond River (below Route 32 and Main Street) to the confluence of the Western Branch of the Nansemond River (near Sack Point).

Officials reported that the force main was repaired and the leak stopped on May 6. During the repairs, it was determined that the estimated release volume was much lower than initially estimated. Furthermore, water testing determined that the waterbodies in the area are no longer affected by the sewer release, however, bacteria levels of Shingle Creek and its confluence with the Nansemond River tend to be higher than state thresholds for primary contact (swimming) use.

VDH recommends the following steps to prevent illness while recreating in any natural waters by:

  • Avoiding contact with any area of the waterbody where there is water with a foul odor, dead or dying fish, or discolored water.
  • Avoid swimming for a few days after heavy rainfall; bacteria levels are likely to be high and disease-causing organisms are more likely to be present after rainfall due to pollution from land runoff and other sources.
  • Avoiding recreational activities that may result in ingestion of water in natural waterways for at least three days following rain events.
  • Whenever you have recreated in natural waterways, promptly wash exposed areas with soap and water.
  • If you have underlying health conditions that affect your immune system, you 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.
  • If you experience adverse health effects after contact with the waterbody, seek medical care and notify your health practitioner of the water exposure.

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