Jan 17, 2019

Georgia Sewer System Neglected

Non-stop rains have overcome the sanitation system in Atlanta, Ga., exposing sewer system

Non-stop rains have overcome the sanitation system in Atlanta, Ga., exposing sewer system
Non-stop rains have overcome the sanitation system in Atlanta, Ga., exposing sewer system.

Last month in Atlanta, Ga., non-stop rains had overcome the sanitation system along Mount Olive Drive and the backup began to seep into homes in the neighborhood north of Decatur.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the county’s Watershed Management Department sent workers to repair a busted 8-inch sewer main. However, when a pump to flush rainwater could not keep up, the hole filled with more water and sewage.

A total of 32,335 gal spilled along Mount Olive Drive over a two-day period with an untold amount flowing in a nearby storm drain that leads to Peachtree Creek.

“Our toilets and bathtubs started filling up with sewer stuff,” Strommen said to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was gross.”

Over a four-day period of heavy rain at the end of December 2018, Dekalb County reported 25 sewer spills totaling more than 1.1 million gal. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, even as the county has made progress getting a handle on systemic issues that lead to major spills, heavy rains exposed another area of concern in the county’s aging, overburdened sewer system.

The county lowered the overall volume of major spills to 5 million gal of overflows versus 13 million recorded the previous year in 2018. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the county had worked to address root causes of overflows, such as reducing fats and oils poured down kitchen drains and clearing debris that cause blockages.

Those efforts did not mitigate what happened in December and early January, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Over a five-week period of unrelenting rain, nearly 1.9 million gal of storm and wastewater poured from manholes and failed pipes.

The rainfall caused most of the 57 sewer spills recorded during that period. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the overflows brought new attention to damage in the system caused by years of neglect and deferred maintenance.

Many of DeKalb’s spills ended up in waterways like Peachtree Creek, Snapfinger Creek and Shoal Creek. The rain stretched the limits in other systems across the metro area. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a pump failure on New Year’s Eve at Cobb County’s water treatment plant caused a sewage overflow into a tributary of the Chattahoochee River. Cobb officials still have not said how much untreated wastewater was released.

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