Jefferson County launches 1st sewer overflow warning system in Alabama

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Jefferson County
Jefferson County EverBridge notification system is being used to notify citizens about sewer overflows. Photo via Jefferson County

Jefferson County is one of the first communities in Alabama to use a multi-outlet early warning and notification system to alert local residents about sewer overflows in nearby rivers, creeks, streams and lakes. 

Learn more and sign up.

EverBridge

Called EverBridge, the county-wide service is normally used during natural disasters, such as tornadoes or flash flood events, to notify and provide timely information to residents on their smartphones, sending texts, emails and automatic phone calls during emergencies. 

Read on to learn how and why notifying county residents about sewer overflows is a new way to keep people safe.

Sewer Overflows 

Jefferson County
Jefferson County EverBridge notification system is being used to notify citizens about sewer overflows. Photo via Jefferson County

We call them gully washers. As Southerners we have all experienced them. Drenching rainfall. When it happens, it occasionally causes sewers to flood and overflow.

When this happens, Jefferson County jumps into action and does the following:

  1. Contain and mitigate the overflow
  2. Document the incident
  3. Contact the Jefferson County Health Department and Alabama Department of Environmental Management
  4. Notify the public

When it comes time to notify the public, EverBridge is a game changer (sign up here).

“In the past, when we alerted the public, we sent all the notices to the television and radio stations and the newspapers,” said David Denard, director of environmental services for Jefferson County. “We depended on the media to pick it up, which didn’t always happen. Today, the media landscape has changed and people don’t consume  news the same way.” 

EverBridge communicates directly with residents. Residents are alerted to sewer overflows in their community in a number of ways—via email, text and on social media. 

Better yet, Jefferson County can target the message even more efficiently. For example, using EverBridge, they can notify people living in Trussville of an overflow without blanketing the other end of the county that is not impacted.

Why Care About Sewer Overflows?

Jefferson
Jefferson County EverBridge notification system is being used to notify citizens about sewer overflows. Photo via Jefferson County

Protecting people’s health and safety and the environment is Environmental Services primary focus. 

“The reason why we care about notifying Jefferson County residents about spills is because it affects the waterway,” described Denard. “For example, Village Creek flows into East Lake Park. Everyone should absolutely be made aware not to fish and children should not swim or play in the creek when there is a spill.”

The water protection groups are supportive of Jefferson County’s initiative.

“Sewage overflows are a widespread danger to public health across Alabama, especially since few people ever know they are occurring,” said Charles Scribner, executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper.  “Waterkeepers Alabama has been promoting better public notification of sewage spills throughout the state. I hope that Jefferson County’s new use of EverBridge proves to be effective public notification and encourages other communities to implement similar strategies.”

Sign Up Today

Jefferson
Jefferson County Courthouse. Photo via Jefferson County

Jefferson County encourages residents, nonprofits and businesses  to sign up with EverBridge and help spread the word about sewage overflows in your community.

Sign up – HERE

Our waterways are a community asset and treasure.  We want the public to know what is going on in their community and keep people safe.

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  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.