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Mobile Baykeeper testing Fairhope water after massive sewage leak into Fly Creek

Fairhope city officials said the spill began on Friday due to an equipment malfunction at a lift station.

Officials are warning residents in Baldwin County after hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage spills into Fly Creek in Fairhope.

Fairhope city officials said the spill began on Friday due to an equipment malfunction at a lift station.

On any given summer day, Fly Creek in Fairhope could be filled with boaters, kayaks and even swimmers trying to beat the heat.

But since the leak, warnings are up for everyone to stay out.

On Wednesday, the Mobile Baykeeper continued testing the waters, which have been off limits since 266,250 gallons of sewage poured into the creek.

The leak occurred following a malfunction at Fairhope's Woodland's lift station along Highway 98.

Cade Kistler with the Mobile Bay Keeper says it's concerning situation for those nearby.

"In the creek, just around the corner from where we are now, were lots of families and children enjoying a beautiful summer day," said Kistler,"It could be something that can make folks very sick. We hope that didn't happen. Unfortunately, with the timing and the nature of the spill, it's a high possibility."

According to city officials, an internal fuse blew Friday morning, turning off the lift station's pump and disrupting the station's system designed to inform utility personnel of a problem.

A backup alert system with a horn was also knocked offline.

The sewage flowed until Monday when city officials were notified after folks living along Fly Creek reported the strong stench.

Jack Burrell, City Council President, says they're working to fix the problem.

"The electrical package came from the factory that way. We are in the process of retrofitting all the known lift stations with that kind of circuitry. We are eliminating the fuse and putting in solid state electronics that will fix that issue," Burrell said.

Fairhope announced the spill on its municipal Facebook page and garnered a lot of angry and concerned reaction from Baldwin County residents.

However, many other residents still may not know.

Kistler says one of the most important issues is spreading awareness, especially about the levels of bacteria in the water.

"We're hoping to see those levels be really low because we want to tell people it's OK. But we don't know what'll happen yet. Hopefully a lot of that is flushed out since the spill happened," said Kistler.

The Mobile Baykeeper expects to get the results of the water testing back on Thursday afternoon.

If you have questions or concerns, contact Fairhope City Hall or the Mobile Baykeeper.

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