Oily substance “not” on Augusta Canal, but on a stream off it

AUGUSTA (WJBF) — City officials say this week’s discovery of a large oil sheen flowing into the Savannah River didn’t come from the Augusta Canal.

Utility crews slowed down the flow of the canal to find out where the oil was coming from. They believe it came from a stormwater drain in Harrisburg.

City officials say the water supply was not affected by the oil sheen, however, it’s still a major concern for the environment.

The city’s storm water ends up in the Savannah River, which means any pollutants that get washed down also end up in the river.

The oil sheen can be seen on Hawks Gully, a stream that runs off the Augusta Canal in the downtown area.

Augusta Utilities, the engineering department and the Riverkeeper are trying to figure out what it is and where it’s coming from.

“This kind of oil leak, or whatever is going on and into the river right now, does seem to be a relatively frequent occurrence. This is at least the 5th or 6th time we’ve had this in the last two years,” the Riverkeeper said.

A berm has now been set up to collect the oil and prevent it from entering the Savannah River.

City crews have determined the oil came from a storm water drain upstream.

They believe it could just be a substance that was washed out from the recent rain, but the Riverkeeper believes otherwise.

“My personal opinion is that we’re looking for an auto shop or looking for a food place that cooks with oil that doesn’t want to pay for that and is pouring that into the storm drains,” the Riverkeeper said.

Although the water supply hasn’t been contaminated, the Riverkeeper is concerned about the substance.

“South Augusta’s drinking water intake is definitely downstream from here, so every time this occurrence happens, it costs the taxpayers because the water has to be turned off and we have to switch over to ground water. It also takes taxpayer money to go out and find this,” the Riverkeeper said.

Whoever the culprit is, the Riverkeeper is hoping to find them.

She’s also reminding people you can’t dump materials, including leaves and yard waste, into stormwater drains.

“If you happen to be in the Harrisburg area and think you know of somebody who is discharging into the stormwater drains, which are those little holes in your neighborhood, we’d really like to know. The city would like to know as well,” the Riverkeeper said.

The city did take some samples of the water for testing. The results should come back next week.

If you’re caught dumping anything into a storm water drain, you could be fined.

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