Marsh Creek Spill Update: What Ward 6 Residents Need to Know

If you live in Ward 6 near Marsh Creek, here’s what you need to know.

How do I get updates on the spill?

  • On August 4th 2017 at 9:02am, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued the following alert:

Overflow of untreated sewage from manhole to Marsh Creek due to equipment failure at Marsk Creek lift station

The above link is currently the only official Marsh Creek spill information from either the city or the state, and the above link may or may not be updated in the future.

  • The NYS DEC has a website where you can track all recent sewage discharge alerts here:

Recent NY-Alert Sewage Spill Notifications

Original Article:  5,000 Gallons of Sewage Spills into Ward 6’s Marsh Creek

What is untreated sewage?

Untreated Sewage refers to liquid wastes containing a mixture of human feces and wastewater from non-industrial human activities such as bathing, washing, and cleaning.*

How much is 5,000 Gallons of Untreated Sewage?

Here’s a US Army semi-trailer with a 5,000 gallon tank.

M969 – US Army

Here’s a US Air Force oil spreader with a 5,000 gallon tank.

Here is a dumptruck which can hold around 4,200 gallons.

This is Marsh Creek at North Street.

What are the environmental effects of untreated sewage?

Untreated sewage destroys aquatic ecosystems, threatening human livelihoods, when the associated biological oxygen demand and nutrient loading deplete oxygen in the water to levels too low to sustain life.*

What are the potential health effects caused by untreated sewage?

Untreated sewage poses a major risk to human health since it contains waterborne pathogens that can cause serious human illness. Life-threatening human pathogens carried by sewage include cholera, typhoid and dysentery. Other diseases resulting from sewage contamination of water include schistosomiasis, hepatitis A, intestinal nematode infections, and numerous others.*

Partial List of Diseases Caused by Untreated Sewage

What Should I do to avoid exposure?

You and your pets should have no contact with the water from Marsh Creek until updated by the DEC or City of Geneva.

Why Didn’t the City of Geneva Alert Residents of the Spill?

The City of Geneva is required under the “Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law” to inform the public of any untreated sewage spill no later than four hours after the spill is discovered. The law was amended in 2016, requiring the City to notify ONLY the DEC, whose alert system is in place to notify the public. If members of the public want to be sure to receive notifications, they must sign up at

The front page of the August 6 2017 Sunday Edition of the Finger Lakes Times included a notification about the spill, almost two full days after the spill occurred. The City of Geneva did not utilize their website or social media presence to alert residents of the spill.

“The Sewage Pollution Right to Know law was enacted in 2013. The law requires that discharges of untreated and partially treated sewage discharges are reported by publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and publicly owned sewer systems (POSSs) within two hours of discovery to DEC and within four hours of discovery to the public and adjoining municipalities.”

Aren’t there Sewage Spills All the time? Is This Really a Big Deal?

Yes, there are. And yes it is.

While millions of gallons of untreated sewage are discharged into American waterways each year, Marsh Creek is unique in that it borders numerous private residences, as well as one of the City’s marquee public parks. It’s relatively small and slow-moving.

At the very least, the City should have reached out via their website and social media presence to let the public know about the sewage spill, so that residents and parkgoers could use extra care around the creek.


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