A 'catastrophic' infrastructure failure has led to an ongoing sewage overflow on Tuscaloosa's JVC Road that may be sending wastewater into two local creeks.

The overflow was first spotted and reported by John Wathen, better known as the Hurricane Creekkeeper, who warned Tuesday morning that a "serious, ongoing overflow" could be sending wastewater into Cottondale Creek, which then feeds into Hurricane Creek.

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Kimberly Michael, the city's Executive Director of Water & Sewer, briefed city council members on the overflow Tuesday during a meeting of their Public Projects Committee and said the problems stem from an infrastructure failure at a manhole on JVC Road.

The sewer line in question carries wastewater from Mercedes Benz U.S. International to the city's wastewater treatment plant, and Michael said the land around Manhole No. 6978 was washed out during heavy rains in 2020.

(John Wathen)
(John Wathen)

Michael said the city was in the process of completely rerouting that sewage line, but that work had not been completed when the infrastructure failed this week and created the overflow.

"This is a project that we have had in the works since 2020 when there was a major washout in the area, so we have been working with engineering and we're in the final stages of engineering on that project," Michael said. "However, we've had a catastrophic failure out there so we are actively working with the John Plott Company to try to stabilize everything right now."

Michael also downplayed Wathen's concerns that sewage was flowing into Cottondale and Hurricane Creeks.

"There is an active overflow happening right now, but we do feel like it is contained in the hole that is in the area," she said. "We've done sampling out at Cottondale Creek where it drains to, we've been working with [the Alabama Department of Environmental Management] as well and we are in the process of getting things started for bypassing so hopefully by Friday, we will have all the flow off of the line so we can do an accurate assessment."

Michael said the city was making plans to reroute sewage away from that manhole and hoped to "limp along" until that project was finished, but said the failure came a few months before the work was to be completed.


She did not have an estimate for how long a complete repair would take to complete. Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for more details as they become available.

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