More than 18 million gallons of partially treated sewage have been released into Taylors Creek over three separate incidents earlier this month, according to press releases issued by the city of Hinesville and the Ogeechee Riverkeepers are taking notice.
"The city of Hinesville has been having some ongoing problems with its wastewater treatment plant," the group posted on its Facebook page. "We are in the process of reviewing their permits and are developing a monitoring plan for Taylors Creek (a tributary of the Canoochee River), which this facility discharges into."
Hinesville has blamed the releases on "equipment failure."
The most recent spill was Jan. 12, when 7.62 million gallons were released. Another spill occurred Jan. 10, when 5.65 million gallons of "partially treated wastewater." The first announced spill of 2018 happened Jan. 4, according to the city, when 5.47 million gallons were released into Taylors Creek.
According the Ogeechee Riverkeepers partially treated wastewater can sometimes add nutrients and oxygen to the body of water it’s released into, throwing the eco-system off.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper Executive Director Simona Perry said the effluent is taking up oxygen and it’s reducing the ability of fish to live the lives they need to live, to get the oxygen.
The group noted it could result, "In all kinds of behavioral problems in fish." The group also said plant life can be affected by these releases, too.
"We know, no matter what, it does alter the water chemistry. No matter what. So anything that alters our water chemistry, we need to pay close attention to," Perry said.