PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Crews working on the Cherry Street resurfacing project were reportedly responsible for spilling over a million gallons of sewage.

It happened Monday afternoon in the Cove area.

City officials are still assessing the impact of the spill.

Just before 3 o’clock Monday afternoon, Royal American construction workers hit a raw sewage line at the corner of North Marie Drive and Cherry Street.

The infrastructure in the Cove is old and doesn’t have the same safety features as more modern sewage systems.

“If we simply just shut all the stuff down, we would potentially have sewage back up into the homes and the residences and the businesses and that is also unacceptable because that’s much more difficult to contain and decontaminate,” Panama City Public Works Director Jonathan Hayes said. 

Lift stations #85 and #81 were damaged. City workers and Royal American crews worked through the night to contain the spill

“We had five back trucks running pretty much every 15 minutes to capture the sewage spill and take it to our take it to the wastewater treatment plant,” Hayes said. 

By 5 AM Tuesday morning the majority of the sewage was contained, but some of it ended up in Watson Bayou.

State environmental officials are still trying to determine the extent of the damage

“Unfortunately, any sewage spills largely have a negative effect on our environment and our public health,” St. Andrew and St. Joseph Bay Estuary Program Executive Director Jessica Graham said. 

The Department of Environmental Protection has issued a swim warning for the bayou. They’re also testing the water quality.

“These spills allow generally a large amount of bacteria and pathogens to enter the water,” Graham said. “Sometimes even heavy metals, pharmaceutical projects or products and even things that can affect hormone production and fish and wildlife.”

Hayes said Royal American will be responsible for the clean-up.

Nearby residents said city officials have contacted them and were helpful. 

We were unable to reach Royal American for a status report on the spill.