Two separate infrastructure failures spilled more than 40,000 gallons of wastewater around and into creeks in Tuscaloosa Tuesday, the city reported to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

On Tuesday, the city of Tuscaloosa told ADEM that recent rainfall led to one sanitary sewer overflow from a manhole and lift station off Keenes Mill Road and another at a lift station off Hargrove Road.

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The first overflow, which reportedly began around 4 a.m. and continued until 9:45 a.m., discharged 35,100 gallons on the ground as well as into an unnamed tributary that feeds into Hurricane Creek.

The second overflow reportedly only lasted for 20 minutes and ended around 12:30 a.m., but discharged sewage into a storm drain, a drainage ditch and into Cottonale Creek.

Tuscaloosa told ADEM they used vacuum trucks to remove what sewage they could and disinfected the areas. The city also said they posted notifications near the overflow sites and on the doors of nearby residences.

After the cleanup, with water levels high and flowing fast and the weather ill-suited for swimming, the impact of these overflows will likely be minimal, but they come after an overflow in October, another in November and four in December. The largest of those six recent events was just over 10,000 gallons.

All those events follow a September lawsuit filed by ADEM and the state of Alabama against the city of Tuscaloosa to both punish and resolve ongoing sewage treatment concerns.

Three local activist groups - the Black Warrior Riverkeeper, the Friends of Hurricane Creek and the Southern Environmental Law Center - recently petitioned for and won the right to intervene in that lawsuit, which could potentially lead to sterner consequences for the city.

In October, Mayor Walt Maddox defended the city, which he said treats more than 6 billion gallons of sewage each year. He said though the city has experienced and reported overflows spilling more than 40 million gallons of wastewater in the last five years, that still represents a near-perfect success rate

For updates on the lawsuit and the city's ongoing efforts to end these overflows, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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