Water expert tests Ft. Loudon Lake

Published: May. 7, 2018 at 5:14 PM EDT
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Neighbors in Alcoa near River Trace Lane told WVLT News Monday that what appeared to be sewage was flowing into Fort Loudoun Lake near waterfront properties; however, local and state officials say that's not the case.

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation confirmed that an investigation was underway Monday. A crew on scene said what appears to be sewage does not have any odor. Neighbors said they thought a smell was not present because it has been treated.

TDEC officials told WVLT Monday night that staff had not observed a sewage release in the area, but that what may have appeared to be sewage was actually pollen and "other natural debris from area foliage."

On Tuesday, TDEC said that "after a visual assessment of the area" and confirmation from Alcoa, Maryville and Knox Chapman Utilities that no leaks had been found in manholes or pump stations, officials had determined that "a sewage release did not occur."

"What is seen on the water is plant matter," a TDEC representative said Tuesday. "Recent weather events and water flow may be exacerbating the appearance. This is a seasonal issue that has occurred in past years on the lake."

However, neighbors said they still want answers about what the debris actually is.

WVLT turned to the experts at Perfect Water, a water testing company in Knoxville. Experts administered a test for the water that covers 75 contaminants, from bacteria to metal and chemicals. Results from that test are expected to be released within two weeks.

WVLT will update this story with those results as they are released.

Officials from the City of Alcoa told WVLT they had assessed the water and believed the floating debris could be naturally forming and could contain pollen and other substances typical of this time of year.

Neighbors in the area told WVLT crews that what they thought was sewage was flowing between Fort Loudoun lake and the Little River in Alcoa Monday. Water in the Little River area appeared to have what neighbors said looked like sewage floating on top of it.

"We usually come down, lay out in the sun and tube in the water," resident Misty Cunningham said. "When I came down and noticed the contamination in the lake, it really troubled me. I thought maybe I shouldn't come down. It may even be in the air."

Neighbors said the affected waterways pass by about 100 homes, and that they first saw substances floating in the water around 6 a.m. Monday.

Alcoa city officials said Monday afternoon the problem originated in Maryville. WVLT reached out to Maryville city officials, who did not immediately return phone calls.