CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Signs are posted at the pond in Park Road Park, warning people not to touch the water or catch any fish. The warning comes after a nearby sewer line ruptured, spilling raw sewage into a nearby stream, which then empties into the pond.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Service workers were out Tuesday testing the water for levels of oxygen and bacteria. After the spill, they detected lowered levels of oxygen and heightened levels of bacteria, sparking the warning signs posted around the park in the SouthPark neighborhood of south Charlotte.
Common household kitchen grease caused the sewer lines to rupture.
"It's going to clog the sewer line, and come out the nearest manhole, and manholes are usually near creeks. So that's where it’s going to go, and it affects everyone," said Meredith Moore with Storm Water Services.
Utility workers say a culmination of homes, apartment complexes, and restaurants in SouthPark contribute to the problem.
"Someone who lives down here, who lives nearby, might be disgusted by the situation, and not realize they're contributing to it by pouring grease down the sink drain," Moore said.
In 2011, kitchen grease caused approximately 60 percent of the sewer spills in Mecklenburg County.
CMUD crews spend every day cleaning out sewer lines and say more often than not, they find pipes clogged with grease. It's a problem, officials say, that has an easy solution.
"Put in a jar. And when it dries up, seal it. And toss it in the trash and be done with it. It doesn't end up here, for us to try and get later," said CMUD worker Grant Gray.
On Monday, a neighbor called 3-1-1 to report the sewage spill near Park Road Park. Officials say that is the best way to report a leak.
Storm water crews say they will return daily to test water samples until the pond is back to its normal oxygen and bacteria levels.