Mary Norwood
Mary Norwood

Atlanta City Council member Mary Norwood told the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods at its March 10 meeting that she was frustrated and was “heated” about the lack of answers from city officials on how to fix flooding and sewage leaks in Atlanta Memorial Park.

Dist. 8 City Council member Yolanda Adrean said she was also pressing for more answers and a long-term solution from city Watershed Management officials.

“I’ve asked Watershed Management to give us a 30-year solution,” Adrean said. “I keep hearing ideas for repairs, but what we need is modeling for a 30-year solution.”

District 8 Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean

Adrean acknowledged the lawsuit brought by Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in 1995 that forced Atlanta to sign a consent decree promising to fix its sewers and remove trash from 37 miles of city streams. “We had a federal judge force us to address our issues. We’re lucky, because other cities haven’t been forced to the table yet, but they will be. Look at what’s happened in Flint, Michigan.”

The city is still under that decree and Adrean said the EPA had recently extended a deadline to give Atlanta more time to clean up the system. Adrean said the extension of the 1 cent sales tax by voters on March 1 for water and sewer infrastructure repairs would go far to address issues.

“But we won’t ever be finished,” Adrean said about the city’s ongoing water and sewer issues. “Anyone who owns a house – how many times have you replaced an air conditioner or refrigerator? We’re never going to be done. But it’s important that we understand where the hot spots are in the city and we prioritize toward solutions.”

Adrean said that as more construction takes place in Midtown and Buckhead that means less impervious services and more potential for flooding and sewer issues. She and Councilmember Howard Shook have asked for a study to see what Peachtree Street and Road will look like at 100 percent buildout so the city can be proactive about addressing water and sewer issues.

City watershed management officials said at a council utilities committee at City Hall on March 9 that they plan to spend about $400,000 over the next three to nine months to raise five manholes on a sewer line through the park. They also plan to speed up plans and soon do more than $30 million in other repairs, including repairing an lining a 90-inch pipe that was installed in 1910 and now runs beneath the park.

“We have accelerated the work on the Peachtree [Creek] watershed,” Watershed Management Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina told members of the City Council’s utilities committee meeting at City Hall on March 9, the day after Mayor Kasim Reed, other city officials and residents of the area toured the Buckhead park to discuss the flooding and sewer leaks.

Raising the manholes by about 2 feet should keep water from flowing into the sewer line and causing future sewage leaks like those reported during heavy rains in December, Macrina said. City watershed employees also said they area asking parks officials to consider moving a playground in the park out of the flood plain.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.