What are sewer overflows?
Overflows most often happen when wastewater escapes from manholes before reaching the treatment plant. Many overflows never leave the area of the manhole - unless they are carried by stormwater flooding.
What should I do if I see an overflow?
Avoid contact and call KUB at 865-524-2911. We post signs that alert people to avoid contact with the overflow. When the overflow stops, we clean up the area and apply lime as a disinfectant.
Are sewer overflows health hazards?
They may expose you to bacteria. Overflows contain everything that goes down your drain-water from washing machines, dishwashers, sinks, showers, and toilets. Although the toilet water is diluted by the other water, we urge you to avoid contact or wash thoroughly with soap and water to prevent illness.
Skin contact doesn’t pose a serious health risk, but there is some risk of disease from swallowing bacteria. So, we urge you to always wash your hands before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom (or helping someone else use the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning toilets, etc.), and after handling anything that had contact with floodwater or sewage.
Child Safety Tip: The EPA says stormwater runoff is the leading cause of water pollution. It washes animal waste (from pets, livestock, wildlife), pesticides, fertilizer, and other pollutants down drainage ditches and into creeks. See www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-epa-region-4-southeast for more information.
Even if there were no sewer overflows in your area, don't let kids play in stormwater. If they do, wash their hands and disinfect toys that fall in drainage ditches, etc. (Use one cup bleach to five gallons water.)
For added safety, teach kids not to play around manholes. If they (or someone else) remove the lid, they could fall in, and some manholes are very deep.
Parents, please see our Wash Germs Down the Drain poster for tips on encouraging handwashing.