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One mistake during construction led to a spill of an estimated 386,000 gallons of sewage in eastern North Carolina.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) made a mistake during construction work six months ago that started a spill of an estimated 386,000 gallons of sewage.

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Officials found the leak April 12 when personnel from the Wilmington, NC, stormwater department reported an odor at manmade wetlands, David Mayes, the city’s stormwater services manager. The city maintains the wetlands to cleanse stormwater.

Cape Fear Public Utility crews were able to make a temporary fix at the site April 13. A permanent fix will be ready in three weeks, said Jim Flechtner, CFPUA’s chief operating officer.

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He said the leak started when crews rebuilt a sewer line and failed to connect a privately owned wastewater pipe connecting Apple Annie’s Bake Shop and Long Island Eatery Deli and Market to the wastewater system.

The company does not monitor the output of private pipes, and the contractor and project inspectors believed the line was not in use, said Jim Craig, services superintendent. Crews checked the pipe and did not see any wastewater flowing through it, he added.

“There were no signs that the pipe was pumping sewage,” he said. “Crews thought it had been rerouted and abandoned.”

The estimated size of the sewage spill comes from on the businesses’ water use since the start of construction on Oct. 20. Some of the wastewater entered Burnt Mill Creek, which drains into the Cape Fear River, according to the CFPUA.

The NC Division of Water Quality and the city are aware of the spill and will receive a full report about the leak, Flechtner said.

The city will issue a notice of violation, but any fines will be determined after CFPUA releases the report, Mayes said. State regulators are also waiting on the report, said Lamont Allen, an environmental specialist with the water quality division.

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