Major Sewer Spills in DeKalb County Decrease by 42 Percent

DeKalb Watershed Management spent days fixing this sewage spill on Eagle’s Beek Circle near Stonecrest in August 2017. County officials say that new leadership, debris removal and increased inspections helped reduced sewer spills this year. AJC file photo
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DeKalb Watershed Management spent days fixing this sewage spill on Eagle’s Beek Circle near Stonecrest in August 2017. County officials say that new leadership, debris removal and increased inspections helped reduced sewer spills this year. AJC file photo

DeKalb County recorded 42.1 percent fewer major sewer spills when compared to the same time last year, according to a press release. In September 2018, DeKalb Watershed Management reported 22 major sewer spills for the year compared to 38 reported spills during the same period last year. The overall volume of major sewer spills also declined by 72 percent (13.7 million gallons to 3.8 million gallons).

“The decline in major sewer spills shows that DeKalb County is moving in the right direction,” said DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond. “Dekalb is committed to protecting the environment and quality of life and supporting economic development.”

Recent accomplishments include:

• New leadership at Department of Watershed Management

• Cleaning large sewer lines for the first time in 50 years

• Inspecting 2,049 creek crossings

• Removing 1,300 tons of debris from sewer lines

• Cleaning more than 600 miles of small sewer pipe

• Treating 45 miles of pipe to remove roots

• Clearing easements and removing trees

The county has invested nearly $100 million to rehabilitate, repair and maintain the county’s aging sewer system. Of that amount, the county allocated $79 million for immediate maintenance and an additional $18.3 million for easement clearings, large and small pipe cleaning, root control and creek crossing inspections.

Staff has also been added to proactively report spills and the county created standard protocols and procedures to respond to sanitary sewer overflows.

An aggressive countywide fats, oils and grease public education effort in 2018 has contributed to fewer spills. The county recently partnered with DeKalb County School District and Georgia Piedmont Technical College to develop a “No FOG, No Clog” program helping students learn how to properly dispose of fats, oils and grease.