State and local officials are advising people to avoid contact with Long Creek in Graham County after recent water quality sampling found wastewater.
The partially treated wastewater is making its way into the creek because of a malfunction at the Robbinsville treatment plant. An official with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources first discovered the problem while doing some routine water sampling two weeks ago downstream of the plant.
Tests revealed fecal coliform in the water exceeded levels considered safe by the state. High fecal coliform counts can indicate that disease-causing bacteria are present.
Public water supplies appear to be safe, as there are no public drinking water sources in the affected area downstream of the plant.
However, state officials are saying no one should fish, drink, swim in or otherwise come into contact with the water in Long Creek.
State and Graham County officials, meanwhile, continue to investigate the problem and seek a solution to better treat the wastewater before it is discharged into Long Creek. Long Creek flows into the Cheoah River in Western North Carolina, which in turn flows into Santeetlah Lake on the Tennessee border.