Levee breach of the Bogue Chitto
About 6 million gallons of diluted sewage spilled into the Bogue Chitto River in Mississippi Friday. Louisiana health officials expect the contaminated river water to reach Louisiana by Sunday. Swimming and fishing advisories are in effect for the entire river.
The sewage spilled into the river after a levee breached at the sewage plant in Brookhaven, Mississippi.
According to the state Department of Health and Hospitals, the raw sewage waste could increase contamination levels (fecal coliform readings) in the river. The added contaminants can produce elevated levels of unhealthy bacteria, said Louisiana State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry.
Illnesses associated with poor water quality include diarrhea, sore throats, stomach cramps or vomiting. Children, the elderly or people with a weakened immune system are at greater risk of getting sick when swimming in waters that harbor natural and man-made contaminants.
The Department of Health offers these additional guidelines that should always be observed:
- Do not swim near a drainage pipe or in a ditch, or near runoff or littered areas.
- Do not swim in areas with warnings against swimming.
- Avoid swimming after heavy rains.
- Avoid ingesting or swallowing the water.
- Minimize immersing your head when swimming.
- Avoid swimming with an open cut or wound.
- Shower after exposure to the water.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is developing a water monitoring plan. When results are in, DEQ will advise the Department of Health.