Millions of Gallons of Waste in James River - WSET.com - ABC13

Millions of Gallons of Waste in James River

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Reporter: Dhomonique Ricks l Videographer: Melinda Zosh

Lynchburg, VA - A big question this evening on a lot of people's minds is how safe is the drinking water. Yesterday, Vinton issued a water boil alert for a few areas. In Lynchburg, full power has been restored to both the water treatment plants as well as the waste water treatment plant. Officials say the drinking water is completely safe and was never an issue.

The waste water plant lost power Friday night, although it is back on, there were some problems. The water had solids in it and officials say to avoid direct contact with the James River if possible.

"For 12, a little over 12 hours we were discharging waste water that was only receiving chlorination," said Tim Mitchell, Director of Water Resources, City of Lynchburg. "It looks like 2.5 million gallons of waste water."

That is what now coats the James River.

"We would advise people to avoid primary contact with the river downstream of Lynchburg for a couple miles," said Mitchell.

For the James River Float company, their business is the river.

"We've also recommended that they do not have people that are in primary contact with the river at this point," said Mitchell.

The city says they advised the company of the river dangers, yet when we stopped by, they were open for business.  

When asked if they could comment on anything about waste water being in the James River, employee Brice Mayhew said, "No I don't think I'll comment on that."

We wanted to know if they were sending people into the river or at least issuing warnings, but our questions went unanswered.  When we asked management to contact us, we never heard back.

As for the River, DEQ, The State Department of Emergency Management and Health Department have all been notified. But it may be too late.

"There's some gray water in the river as well as a few fish that we found that were dead," said Mitchell.

Mitchell says the water should be okay to be in direct contact with in a day or so. We are told the city will do another inspection of the river Tuesday. Right now the waste water is receiving full treatment.

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