E. Coli Present at White Rock Lake

Swimming prohibited sign at White Rock Lake
Swimming prohibited sign at White Rock Lake | Image by NBC 5 DFW

Elevated levels of E. coli are present in White Rock Lake following a mass raw sewage leak of 1.5 million gallons that entered the water.

On March 14, a pump and motor failure caused by a broken valve at the Lower White Rock Lift Station in Plano caused wastewater to overflow into White Rock Creek at an estimated 500 gallons of sewage per minute. The sewage flowed for more than 38 hours before it was eventually halted.

Dallas Park and Recreation (DPR) officials were quick to assure residents that public drinking water was not affected by the spill and remains safe for consumption. However, water activities at White Rock Lake were halted on March 19 for further testing.

In a memorandum from the City of Dallas obtained by The Dallas Morning News, City staff said levels of E. coli remained high at Dallas’ White Rock Lake on March 21, one week after the spill.

The memo did not specify the extent of the contamination from samples taken from the White Rock spillway to Frankford Road. Dallas has shared E. coli test results with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to the memo.

Despite the elevated levels, DPR restored water recreation activities to the public on March 24, noting that water sampling results were back to pre-incident levels.

This is not the first time an overflow of sewage has made it into the lake.

In July 2018, a damaged pipe caused over 1 million gallons of sewage to flow into White Rock Creek. In October 2018, an overflow from a Plano manhole resulted in 159,900 gallons of wastewater contaminating the creek. In November 2011, a fallen tree damaged a sewage line, leading to 100,000 gallons of wastewater overflow.

The water lift station in Plano has begun operating again with temporary equipment in place. The North Texas Municipal Water District said it could take two weeks to repair the valves damaged during the recent mechanical failure, reported DMN.

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