WAXAHACHIE

A series of sanitary sewer overflows that exceeded 1.517 million gallons took place throughout Waxahachie last week.

The overflows began Tuesday, Oct. 16 with an estimated 1.09 million gallons flooded in various sectors of the Mustang Creek Drainage Basin. Approximately 427,000 gallons flooded throughout the Waxahachie Creek Drainage Basin, as well. All overflows ended by Thursday morning, Oct. 18.

“This is the fourth public notice we’ve done in 28 years,” Director of Utilities David Bailey said.

According to a press release, the city has measured approximately 17 inches of rainfall from Saturday, Sept. 22 to Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The overflows occurred due to a significant amount of rainwater that infiltrated into the sanitary sewer collection system.

“They’re not water-tight,” Bailey said. “Some of these sewer systems have been put in back in the 1930s, so, over time, pipes crack, water gets in them, contractors hit them and you’ve got openings in the lines.”

Bailey said sanitary sewer overflows like these are not uncommon, especially with the weather Texas has faced the past several weeks. In Midlothian, for instance, over 213,750 gallons of wastewater was reported to have overflowed from the Mountain Creek Regional Wastewater system at 7:30 a.m. last Thursday at 1717 Auger Road. The spill was contained and corrected by Monday, Oct. 22.

“Most of the cities that have sewer systems in Texas experience this same issue, because of the magnitude of rainfall we’ve had,” Bailey said.

Still, Bailey didn’t shortchange the waterfall that hit Ellis County. Before this weather, Bailey said the most massive rain events came in 2015 and May of this year.

“Those were record-setting,” he expressed. “Now we’ve broken those records with these last two months.”

Bailey doesn’t expect the condition of the sanitary sewer systems to worsen anytime soon. He said two weeks from now the ground would be dry enough to handle any excess water they will receive from future rainfall.

"If we get an inch and a half rain in a day, we’re probably not going to have any overflows, because the ground can handle it and the runoff will go to the creek,” Bailey said.

All overflows identified were reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality within 24 hours of discovery.

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David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX

469-517-1456