White Rock Lake Reopens After Sewage Spill

white rock
White Rock Lake | Image by asiantiger247/Getty Images

Water activities at White Rock Lake resumed Sunday following a March 14 sewage spill in Plano that resulted in 1.5 million gallons of sewage entering the lake.

Park officials said the decision comes after Dallas Water Utilities (DWU) reported that water samples are back within normal levels, deeming the water safe for public usage.

While swimming remains prohibited, park visitors are welcome to enjoy fishing, boating, and rowing once again. In addition, the water launch area at White Rock Lake Dog Park is back open for pets.

The shutdown took place after a pump and motor failure caused by a broken valve at the Lower White Rock Lift Station in Plano resulted in a massive amount of sewage overflowing into the water. Untreated sewage was flowing at an estimated 500 gallons per minute into White Rock Creek, which flows into White Rock Lake, for more than 38 hours.

By the time the overflow was halted on March 16, more than 1.5 million gallons of sewage — equivalent in volume to three Olympic-size pools — had made its way into the creek.

Officials were quick to assure residents that drinking water remained safe for consumption, but Dallas Park and Recreation officials suspended recreational activities at the lake on March 19 due to elevated bacterial levels from the overflow.

Exactly how much sewage made its way from Plano to Dallas is unknown. To dilute the wastewater, Plano added dechlorination tablets and flushed the creek with water, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokesperson Victoria Cann told The Dallas Morning News.

As the water quality begins to return back to pre-incident levels, the DWU will continue testing water samples through Friday to ensure levels remain within normal limits.

“Following best practices, park officials will continue receiving testing data from DWU and will enact its maintenance operations protocols for restricting water recreation activities if water quality deteriorates from upstream incidents and major weather storms,” reads a press release.

The water lift station in Plano has begun operating again with temporary equipment in place, per DMN. 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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