Dawson’s Creek—the North Carolina idyll that is home to herons and ospreys, gently babbling waters, and teenage feelings—is completely full of shit in a way beyond ridiculous romantic subplots, after becoming flooded with some 422,000 gallons of raw sewage. The incident actually happened last summer, when lightning struck a sewage pump along the creek—known to locals as Hewletts—and untreated wastewater proceeded to gush into it for seven hours like a precociously sensitive teenager. Since then, residents have presumably been standing alongside the creek in their enormous sweaters, wondering what to do while gazing wistfully at the sunset. But now author David Gessner, easily the “Pacey” of environmental writers, has written a piece for OnEarth.org [via Salon] demanding that, for the first time on Dawson’s Creek, someone take a decisive action.
As Gessner reports, this isn’t the first time Dawson’s Creek has been overwhelmed by a whole bunch of shit: There was the broken sewer main that allowed some 4.5 million gallons of sewage to flood the nearby marsh in 2006, and of course, there was that episode where Andie celebrates getting into Harvard by going to a rave and ODing on ecstasy. But this also sounds bad: According to local research professor Mike Mallin, while the marsh is “doing what it was supposed to do” by absorbing the nitrogen and phosphorus that allows microbes to flourish, “The problem comes when the fecal bacteria sink to the bottom, in the dark with plenty of nitrogen and phosphorus to feed on.” And right now that fecal bacteria is just lying there waiting to be stirred up again and again, like a teenage boy’s latent love for his female best friend.
Making matters worse, according to Gessner, is that local and state officials continue to downplay these leaks, and are barely doing anything to protect Dawson’s Creek, preferring instead to focus on what he calls the “gloss” of the town’s image. Still, as pretty as it can be, stare at Dawson’s Creek long enough and you’ll soon be asking, “What is this shit?”