DeKalb County is planning a $1.35 billion overhaul of its aging sewer system, but in the meantime, the spills keep happening.
Spills in Dunwoody and Brookhaven were reported in late January. County officials said that the aging sewer system will continue to leak until significant upgrades are made.
“It’s something we’ve had a problem with, mostly because the age of the system,” said Burke Brennan, spokesman for DeKalb County.
On Jan. 27, the county reported two spills.
The first occurred in Dunwoody in the 4200 block of Shallowford Road, where an apartment complex and a faulty pipe connected to the building spilled an undetermined amount of sewage into North Nancy Creek, according to the county’s report. Signs were posted around the spill to alert people to be aware of the situation.
The second spill occurred in Brookhaven in the 1700 block of Wilmont Drive. The spill was estimated at 8,400 gallons and spilled into a tributary of the north fork of Peachtree Creek.
The cause of the spill was listed as grease in the sewer line, a common reason that the aging system doesn’t run at capacity, say county officials.
The spill was cleaned up by pressure washing the area, according to the county’s report.
The two spills are adding to the some 500 such spills that have occurred in the county during the past five years.
The Environmental Protection Agency fined the county more than $450,000 for the spills and ordered the county to upgrade the system. While the county has created a capital program to fix the pipes, there’s not yet a date set for the work to begin.
David Deganian, staff attorney for GreenLaw, a state environmental group, has represented neighborhood groups in DeKalb County that have been concerned about the repeated spills.
The group is looking to create construction benchmarks for how the county must proceed and to fine it more heavily if the deadlines are not met.
“In the form that it is in now there is not really a schedule they will have to stick to,” Deganian said.