Spill at Mattawoman Creek

Many of you have seen the news about the recent disastrous spill at Mattawoman Creek, when nearly six million gallons of raw sewage poured into the creek as a result of “multiple pump failures.”

I investigated this and spoke to Charles County Public Works about why they only had one out of four pumps operating when heavy rains were predicted. Two pumping stations failed that night, leading  to catastrophic failure (one pump was down for maintenance). I made it clear that it was unacceptable to have millions of gallons of raw sewage spilled into Mattawoman Creek and the Potomac. Department of Public Works Assistant Director for Utilities Gregory Boykin agreed, calling it his “worst nightmare.” They agreed to keep emergency back-up diesel pumps on site until the six new pumps and equalization basin (10 million gallon holding tank) are built and installed over the next two years. The County also committed to aggressively inspecting their sewer lines for leakage and cleaning 20% of their lines annually.

At our request, the County also agreed to bacterial monitoring to ensure public safety and improved public notification of unsafe water quality, so the public is aware of when and where it’s safe to recreate in Mattawoman Creek. I’ll be working with local outfitters and Mattawoman Watershed Society to identify sampling locations – we want to be absolutely certain that the creek is safe for our Piscataway Kanoi Tribe Cultural Interpretation Paddle June 23.

I want to publicly thank Greg Boykin, the assistant director, for his keen interest in solving this problem.  Unlike a lot of regulators, he is focused on what went wrong and how it can be avoided in the future.

I’m also happy to pass on news from Charles County: its recent post-spill E. Coli bacteria sampling shows that water in the Creek is safe for human contact.