Sewage overflowing at rapid pace from DeKalb’s long-neglected pipes

A recent raw sewage spill in DeKalb County was so big that it dumped more waste than every previous overflow in the previous six years combined.

That 6.4 million-gallon spill near Snapfinger Creek in south DeKalb was caused by decades of neglect. A 16-inch oak tree went unnoticed for more than 20 years as it grew atop sewer pipes until they ruptured.

The county is on pace to record its highest number of sewage spills in years, even as the county is under a federal court order to improve its wastewater system.

Heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Irma worsened the situation, causing sewage to overflow from aging pipes.

There were 150 sewage spills that reached public waters in DeKalb through September, putting the county on track for 200 spills this year.

Exclusive to subscribers: Read how mismanagement and neglect created a sewer crisis, only on


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A tree took root on top of a sewer pipe, growing for more than 20 years until the pipe burst, spilling 6.4 million gallons of sewage near Snapfinger Creek in August. Photo credit: DeKalb County

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