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High bacteria levels reported in Pottsburg Creek after JEA sewage leak

“You can definitely smell the sewage everyday," one neighbor who lives in the affected area told First Coast News.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — High bacteria levels have been found in Pottsburg Creek after an equipment failure at a JEA lift station caused 90,000 gallons of sewage to be dumped into the water.

According to JEA, the leak happened at the facility on Holiday Road Sunday. 

Signs in the area alert neighbors not to drink, fish, or swim in the water. JEA has taken steps to address the spill, but neighbors told First Coast News it has caused a horrible smell. Many are worried about health and environmental impacts.

“You can definitely smell the sewage everyday," said Delacey, who has lived in the Grove Park neighborhood for two decades.

Her and other neighbors say it’s more than just the smell that is worrying them.

“Will it seep into our ground water at all, you know it your backyard, your pools, if you have a well irrigation are you spraying it all over the neighborhood. It’s a bit scary," said resident and realtor Mary Walker Miller

Pump trucks were in and out of the facility Tuesday addressing the leak. JEA also applied hydrated lime to the affected soil to kill bacteria and reduce odors. Water samples were taken to test for bacteria and in a statement JEA said:

"JEA is sampling Pottsburg Creek water on a daily basis in response to the Jan. 16 Sanitary Sewer Overflow at our lift station on Holiday Road. The samples taken on Jan. 17 show elevated bacteria levels. JEA will continue to remediate and monitor this area daily. We also will maintain signage in the affected area until bacteria levels stabilize."

This isn’t the first spill at the Holiday Road Lift facility. 

In October of last year, JEA reported a sewage leak of 500 gallons. That sewage was contained on site, and no water bodies were impacted. During Hurricane Matthews in 2016, a power outage at the facility caused more than a million gallons of raw sewage to be dumped into the creek.

There is an ongoing construction project to improve the facility, but according to JEA, a failure with a bypass pump brought in as they do repairs caused the spill.

Councilman Kevin Carrico, who represents the area, said he and his office are on top of it.

“They haven’t expressed exactly what caused it other than it was the bypassing of the actual pump that they’re repairing so we’re really hoping that we can overcome this and we can finish the repairs and finish upgrading that lift, that pump station and then we wont have these problems again," Carrico said. "Just really feel for the creek and the citizens that live around it at this point."

In the meantime, Mary Walker Miller believes this could turn future homeowners away.

“I do think it’s going to effect our market and effect people coming to the area, just driving down the street you can smell it and if you can smell it, who wants to live in a stinky neighborhood," said Miller.

Crews have made repairs, and the station is working normally, according to JEA. The company is also aware of the odor saying;

As part of JEA’s lift station upgrade project, JEA is installing a modern odor control system. The odor that residents are smelling now is related to the failure on Sunday and is temporary.

RELATED: JEA: 90,000 gallons of sewage overflows near and into Pottsburg Creek

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