Bacteria Levels High at Hewletts Creek

JULY 13, 2005 -- Hewletts Creek in Wilmington remains closed to fishing and swimming, mainly because experts say the bacteria is still at an unusually high level.

Nearly two weeks ago three million gallons of raw sewage leaked into the creek. Since then, scientists at UNC Wilmington have been sampling the water. Their recent results show high levels of bacteria embedded in the sediments of the creek, anywhere from three to 30 times over normal levels.

Tuesday night, Wilmington city officials outlined steps they want to take to prevent another massive sewage spill.

City council members say they've been inundated with calls from angry residents. They asked the city's public works director why it took five hours to divert the flow of sewage and start repairs.

"In hindsight I think we probably should have shut it down a little bit earlier than we did and gotten on with the business of making that repair," said Public Works Director Hugh Caldwell.

Next week a contractor is expected to look at the system.