Picture shows Snapfinger Creek Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility on Sept. 20, 2013. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

DeKalb lowballed sewage spills

DeKalb County’s government failed to report 35 sewage spills that polluted waterways over the last four years, according to the results of the county’s investigation released Tuesday.

Underreporting of sewage spills could violate requirements imposed by a federal judge as the county is spending $1.35 billion to upgrade its aging water and sewer systems. The county government could face fines.

Of 555 spills from 2012 to 2015, DeKalb’s government hadn’t previously reported 35 of them, or 6 percent, to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

DeKalb’s government acknowledged that it had underreported sewage spills in April, and the county hired CH2M Hill and Joe Tanner & Associates as contractors to conduct an independent investigation.

The number of sewage spills in DeKalb is decreasing, even when including those spills that hadn’t previously been reported. DeKalb had 125 spills last year compared to 156 in 2012, according to the county’s revised figures.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division will review the reports DeKalb submitted and determine if penalties are necessary, according to EPD Watershed Protection Branch Compliance Manager Lewis Hays. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency declined to comment.

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