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More than one million gallons of sewage leaked into a Jacksonville waterway

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One million gallons of raw sewage spilled into Wills Branch waterway of the Cedar River on the city’s Westside this week, according to JEA.

Residents in the Hyde Park area reported there was a foul odor coming from the Wills Branch Creek and a thick sludge on top of the water.

The city-owned utility said the spill occurred this week because of a blockage at a lift station on Lenox Avenue. JEA has posted pollution notices in the area, warning people to stay away from the water.

Robert Reilly was one of the first people to notice the spill, which occurred about two miles away from his home. He said it wasn’t hard to notice because it smells so bad and the creek behind his home is cloudy and covered with raw sewage.

“This happened back when we had the hurricane. They lost power over there and it backed up and did the same thing. So that’s when I called,” Reilly told News4Jax on Thursday.

But the spill is different than when pump stations failed during Hurricane Matthew in October. JEA said the spill was not caused by any power outage, but because, somehow, a huge amount of electrical wiring and a bunch of rags and wipes became caught in a sanitary sewer line.

Officials said they now know how it got there, but the problem was they weren’t able to retrieve it — it actually went further into the system, which is dangerous.