Smith River Safety Hazards

Videojournalist: Alana Austin

Martinsville, VA -- Heavy rain this week meant that Martinsville got more water than it could handle.

About 1.5 million gallons of potentially contaminated water went through a controlled bypass into the Smith River. But waste management officials say in comparison to the three billion gallons that flow through every day, it was quite diluted.

The Health Department advised folks Wednesday to avoid going into the water, as contamination was possible.

But city officials say the greater risk was getting too close to the river and drowning.

"It's dangerous. The flow itself is enough. And who knows where all that runoff's coming from," said Andy Lash, Martinsville's Superintendent of Water Resources.

Officials don't anticipate further overflow, but they said heavy rainfall always brings about this possibility.