Friday's storms brought a deluge of rain to metro Atlanta, and a host of troubles to DeKalb County's aging sewer system.
The 3.3 inches of rain caused 24 sewer spills, according to reports from the county’s Department of Watershed Management.
In total, at least 326,823 gallons of sewage spilled, the preliminary reports indicate. The actual number is likely much higher, since about half of the reports said the amount was still “to be determined.”
Most of the incidents involved manholes spilling “due to heavy rain getting into sewer system,” as one report noted. The sewage entered waterways across the county, including North Fork Peachtree Creek (212,500 gallons), Burnt Fork Creek (19,000 gallons) and Blue Creek (10,742 gallons). Several of DeKalb’s creeks also flooded in Friday’s storms.
DeKalb sends out reports on all sewer spills that happen in the county. Almost all of Friday’s spills were initially described as “major” incidents, but those designations can change after follow-up investigations.
DeKalb’s sewers have been overburdened for decades, and though the county has made improvements in recent years, heavy storms like Friday’s continue to overwhelm the system.
In 2018, the county reported fewer major sewer spills, with an overall volume of 5 million gallons of overflows versus 13 million recorded the previous year.
This month’s spills, though, were reminiscent of a four-day period of heavy rain at the end of December, during which DeKalb reported 25 sewer spills totaling more than 1.1 million gallons.
The problems go back years. In 2010, the county entered into a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency and committed to spend $326 million in upgrades by 2020.
Residents continue to shoulder the costs with a portion of utility bills helping to fund the fixes.
— AJC staff reporter Tia Mitchell contributed to this report.
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