Sewage Leak Prompts Some Beaches To Close

Health officials issued Fourth of July swimming warnings for waterways all over Mobile and Baldwin counties after more than a million gallons of sewage spilled during recent heavy rains. Swimming advisories have not been posted for Gulf of Mexico beaches, but testing has not been completed for some of those areas.

Camilla English, senior environmental officer with the Baldwin County Health Department, cautioned swimmers to be wary even in areas that don't have posted advisories. Mobile's average June rainfall is 5.01 inches, but last month brought 20.66 inches of rain, as measured at the official weather station at Mobile Regional Airport. Baldwin County's measurements for June haven't been completed. Tropical Storm Bill hit Monday, causing even worse conditions in the area's overtaxed wastewater systems. Sewer systems in Mobile, Prichard, Bayou la Batre, Saraland and Dauphin Island all reported spills Monday and Tuesday.

Most of the major sewer systems in Baldwin County also had problems. Mobile Area Water and Sewer System officials estimated their system spilled a little more than a million gallons of sewage through Tuesday evening. Swimming warnings have been issued for favorite swimming holes from Wolf Bay on Baldwin County's eastern border to Daphne's May Day Park and Fowl River on Mobile Bay. Dauphin Island on the Mississippi Sound had unusually high levels of the enterococcus bacteria associated with human waste. Health department officials warned that human waste and the assorted bacteria and viruses that it encourages can result in stomach illnesses if swallowed and eye and skin problems from contact.