Water improved; pollution source confirmed

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Waste Management says it's found "significant improvement" in the quality of Vickrey Spring water south of Cedar Ridge Landfill.

Meanwhile, a "dye-trace" shows pollution of the spring was, as suspected, from a broken pipe that carried soiled water from the landfill to where it's hauled off in trucks.

Marshall County residents who live near or own property around the unnamed tributary flowing from Vickrey Spring received that information and more on Aug. 12 from Terri Douglas, the community relations manager for Waste Management.

Two months ago, Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett warned residents to avoid the stream because of pollution and he likened it to something he saw nearly a decade earlier when it was identified as from the landfill.

Liquids in garbage and rain seep through landfills and produce leachate. Landfill operators are to collect it for disposal. Sometimes it's pretreated and flushed to a sewer. Waste Management trucks it from Cedar Ridge where it's collected at a site from a series of leachate pipes.

Pollutants flowing from Vickrey Spring were identified as components of leachate and landfill officials began to take steps to deal with the pollution about the time Lewisburg Water and Wastewater Department officials reported to the Tennessee department of Environment and Conservation that their sewers weren't leaking. That was in mid-June.

Now, Waste Management has a small dam around Vickrey Spring and the landfill company is having that water pumped to a sewer so Lewisburg's wastewater plant can treat what's now perceived as diluted leachate.

"We anticipate continuing this spring-capture project and monitoring until results are at historic levels" of various minerals in the spring water, Douglas reported in a letter dated Wednesday last week.

"Our most recent laboratory analyses show no man-made constituents found and that ammonia and chloride have significantly decreased to levels approaching that of historic levels for this location," Douglas said. "In addition, there were no constituents detected above relevant health-based standards."

As for the dye-trace test, Waste Management pumped the dye into the pipe it suspected to have suffered a break. That pipe was used to pump leachate from one collection area to the trucks' transport station at the landfill.

"As expected, the dye appeared at Vickrey Spring but at none of four locations at and around the landfill," Douglas said. "This confirms that the failure in the force-main pipe happened quickly and did not occur over a long period of time."

And while the company says stream quality has improved, Waste Management hasn't lifted its advisory against people going into or using Vickrey Branch of Globe Creek south of the landfill.