People are being cautioned to stay out of Marley Creek in Glen Burnie after an estimated 50,000-gallon sewage spill during a renovation project at Marley Pump Station.
Anne Arundel County public works officials were alerted to the spill at the station about 3:30 a.m. Monday.
The station at the end of Norman Road is being upgraded, with improvements to its electrical system and other equipment. A contractor's temporary bypass pumping system put in place during the project failed, causing the spill, said Matt Diehl, a spokesman for the Department of Public Works.
Not all of the estimated 50,000 gallons of untreated sewage reached the creek, Diehl said. The contractor cleaned the area and placed lime on the ground around the spill, he said.
The Anne Arundel County Department of Health closed the creek from the headwaters to Chain O Hills Road and Sunrise Lane, which is just east of the Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard overpass. The area is off-limits until further notice for swimming, water skiing and other activities that involve direct contact with the water.
Anyone who comes into contact with the water should wash well with warm, soapy water. Clothes also should be washed.
For years, health officials had issued a "limited-use advisory" on the creek, warning people not to swim or ski. Boating, fishing and crabbing was deemed safe.
More recently, health officials have advised residents that bacteria levels can fluctuate, so they should take that into consideration when deciding whether to go out on the creek, said Elin Jones, a department spokeswoman.
Health officials no longer take bacteria samples on the creek, but testing by the nonprofit South River Federation in August showed bacteria readings at levels low enough to allow direct contact.