The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has lifted a recreational water contact advisory for the lower portion of the New River, including a section within the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Due to operational failures at the Huntsville, Tn. wastewater treatment plant, TDEC issued an advisory for this water body on Dec. 7.
The treatment plant returned to compliance on Wednesday, Dec. 12. The advisory was maintained due to anticipated rainfall events, which had the potential to cause a partial bypass of peak flows. A partial bypass did occur overnight on Dec. 26, and alternative disinfection was implemented for the bypassed flow.
With its treatment capabilities now restored to treat typical daily flows, the treatment plant is discharging well-treated wastewater at its permitted discharge point. However, it is possible that, over the upcoming wet weather season, extended or extreme rainfall events could cause additional partial bypassing at the treatment plant. Alternative disinfection has been planned for those events.
Early last month, the Huntsville plant’s membrane filter process experienced mechanical problems, resulting in reduced levels of wastewater treatment. Because of the proximity of the discharge to the Big South Fork National Recreation Area, TDEC made the decision to issue an advisory. Huntsville, its consultants and the filter supplier worked together to restore the ability of the facility to adequately treat wastewater and meet water quality standards.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation provided oversight and technical support to the impacted system.