ST. FLORIAN, Ala. — Community members in St. Florian are concerned about the water quality in Shoal Creek.
“This past Saturday, we noticed that there was some strange sludge floating on the creek, and its kind of like an island floating,” Retired St. Florian Police Chief Ralph Richey said.
Richey owns property along Shoal Creek and said it’s anything but enjoyable right now. Concerned about possible sewage flowing into the water, he said he reached out to the Lauderdale County Health Department and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
“It’s got a lot of smell to it, not real bad, but there’s a smell to it,” Richey said. “There’s a lot of trash and it’s changed the coloration of the water that’s usually flowing through here.”
Richey said he believes the material flowing into the water is sewage runoff from the nearby Woodland Hills Mobile Home Park.
James Congleton with the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed an investigation did begin on Monday because of reports of sewage from the mobile home park spilling onto the ground. As of Tuesday afternoon, the department has been informed that the issue has been resolved.
“Whether or not that went on in the creek or not we don’t know,” Congleton said. “Anything that would’ve been there would already be diluted and considered minor once it gets diluted in that much water.”
Richey said ADEM has taken samples to confirm if the substance in the water is indeed sewage or just algae and debris. If his suspicions are correct, he hopes that the state will help correct the issue as soon as possible.
News 19 reached out to ADEM for an update on the samples. The department released the following statement:
“After receiving a complaint Monday about a possible sewage spill near the Woodland Hills trailer park in Lauderdale County, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management conducted multiple inspections of the trailer park and nearby streams. ADEM inspectors collected samples and observed impacted streams, which flow into Shoals Creek, and determined that malfunctioning lift stations that serve the trailer park are responsible for the discharge. Efforts by operators of the trailer park to stop the discharge were ongoing Tuesday afternoon. Whenever there is a sewage spill or discharge of this nature, ADEM recommends the public avoid the area and abstain from recreational activities. ADEM will continue to monitor the situation until the problem is resolved.”
Updated at 10:23 p.m. on 6/15/2021 to include ADEM’s response.