By Sean Wardwell

Killeen Daily Herald

Killeen public works staff responded to a sewer overflow at the Florence and Trimmier ditches Thursday morning, prompting a warning for anyone in the area.

The city advised residents to avoid swimming or fishing in Florence Ditch between Old Florence Road and Turtle Creek Drive and in Trimmier Road Ditch between Turtle Creek Drive and Trimmier Road.

Anyone - or any pet - who has had contact with either creek is encouraged to wash their skin carefully with soap and hot water.

It was possible the spill may have affected the surface water in those areas.

Hilary Shine, a Killeen spokeswoman, said the city received a call about the spill around 11 a.m. Thursday. City workers were on the scene in less than 30 minutes.

"It appears one of the pipes was blocked," said Shine. "Our crews were on-site and dammed up the areas (of the ditches) that were affected."

Kristina Ramirez, Killeen's director of environmental services, said the spill is estimated at under 40,000 gallons.

"We had a large plug of grease that came through the line," she said, explaining the cause of the spill. "After we removed the plug, we found some evidence of tree roots and other vegetation."

At least 13 city workers responded to the spill, which was contained by Thursday afternoon.

"(City workers) have been in there doing cleanup with suction hoses, introducing chemicals and putting some fresh water into the system," said Shine.

Ramirez said the cost of repairs to the line for the city will be low, as the only expenses were running equipment and hiring a contractor to help clean the spill.

While the size of the spill does not require notifying the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the city plans on releasing the results of its water testing to the agency.

Shine said the city expects the test results today and will issue notifications when it is safe to return to the creeks.

Contact Sean Wardwell at seanw@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7552.

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