Two sewage overflows happened in a tributary of Sloop Cove on Stoney Creek. Handout photo.

Back-to-Back Sewage Spills Close Stoney Creek Tributary

Two sewage spills in just nine days on a tributary of Stoney Creek have prompted the Anne Arundel County Department of Health to issue a water-contact warning.

And the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is now investigating the overflows.

A feeder stream to Sloop Cove on Stoney Creek is closed for a full two weeks, until Christmas Day. The health department says a sewage spill of 102,900 gallons happened December 9. 3,000 gallons were recovered. Then on December 18, another 100,000-plus gallons spilled into the same feeder stream.

The stream in question is about 3,000 feet from the headwaters of Sloop Cove, in a heavily wooded ravine.

The health department advises people not to come in direct contact with the water, and if you do, to wash well immediately with soap and warm water, as well as wash all clothing. Sewer overflows increase bacteria levels and disease-causing pathogens, MDE says.

MDE investigates and assesses financial penalties for overflows like these, “unless the owner or operator of the system can clearly demonstrate that the overflow was beyond their control and in spite of taking all reasonable steps to properly operate, maintain and improve sewer system infrastructure,” MDE spokesman Jay Apperson tells Bay Bulletin.

In cases of repeated spills from the same pump station, manhole, or sewer line, MDE may also issue orders requiring improvements to prevent and stop sewer overflows.

-Meg Walburn Viviano