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Little Miami River leak wasn't sewage, health officials say it's likely river foam and bubbles

MSD crews tested sewer line and say it never broke.
Little Miami River
Posted at 11:52 AM, Feb 02, 2023

LOVELAND, Ohio — After urging people to stay away from the Little Miami River on Thursday, officials now say the suspected sewer leak is likely just natural river foam.

“The best we can tell at this point is, it’s just bubbles,” said Hamilton County Health Department spokesman Mike Samet. “It is a sudsy, bubbly compound. We did not see any active discharge.”

A Loveland resident spotted the foam earlier this week and notified the Ohio EPA.

“We got a note from the EPA that sewage was boiling up in the Little Miami River,” Samet said. “We jumped into caution mode.”

Samet issued an initial press release warning the public to stay away from the Little Miami River south of Loveland because the county believed "considerable" amounts of sewage had leaked into the river. He later sent a second statement, notifying the public that no sewage leak had occurred.

“Once we got out there, it wasn’t sewage at all,” Samet said.

The Metropolitan Sewer District started investigating last Wednesday afternoon, continuing through Thursday.

MSD crews checked the pumps at the Harper Avenue Pump Station, located adjacent to Kiwanis Park, near the Little Miami River and the suspected sewage leak. They conducted fluorescent dye testing to determine if there was a leak.

After walking up and down Riverside Drive and the Little Miami River in Loveland looking for fluorescent dye in the river or sewage surfacing, MSD crews found nothing.

The pump station feeds into a 24-inch diameter force main that runs along Riverside and East Kemper avenues. Since the force mains are under pressure, if a leak had occurred, “there would be ample evidence of sewage surfacing somewhere along its path and the dye would be visible in the river,” said MSD spokesperson Deb Leonard.

Since no contaminants have been identified, Samet said the investigation is closed and the public can, “enjoy the river.”