Local rivers begin to recede, health concerns rise - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Local rivers begin to recede, health concerns rise


The Wabash and White Rivers are starting to recede on Sunday night, but along with that, officials say, comes some health concerns. 

Those concerns are centered on the use of sandbags, bacteria and waste can become trapped inside sandbags. With thousands using them to keep the water at bay, improper disposal of them could make a lot of people sick.

Posey County EMA Director Larry Robb says the Wabash is currently at 20.8-feet in New Harmony and is expected to crest any time now. But as the water recedes, there are health and environmental concerns.

"We've discussed the issues of sandbags," says Robb. "When they do get river water on them, that is just the same water that's on hundreds of thousands of acres of farm ground."

Residents in flooded areas from Vincennes down to Posey County have used thousands of sandbags to stave off the water and as the water runs off them and into the river, the threat of contamination increases.

"Whenever the flood waters rise they don't discriminate what they bring along with them, which includes potentially raw sewage, oil, and other bacteria that saturate within these sandbags," says Kellie Streeter of the Knox Co. EMA.

That saturation has the potential to contaminate farmland and local water supplies. Street says 10,000-15,000 sandbags were used in the Vincennes area alone. Making in imperative to dispose of them properly.

"We just ask that you cut the bags open, and use the same in some project or dispose of the sand and throw the empty sandbag in your normal trash," says Robb. "Or you can bury the sandbags, because they are biodegradable, but it takes several years for them to fully biodegrade."

14 News spoke to several Posey County residents on Sunday and they tell us they're use to floods and that they are well-aware of the dangers of improperly disposing of sandbags. They also say they hope the folks to the north of them are just as aware.

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