Watershed Management making changes after 22 million-gallon sewage spill

by: Rachel Stockman Updated:

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ATLANTA - Atlanta's Department of Watershed Management is making some major changes to how investigators react to sewage spills, following a leak that flooded a northwest Atlanta creek with more than 22 million gallons of raw sewage.

"It is appalling," said neighbor Tenley Robinson in reaction to the large size of the sewage spill in her neighborhood creek.

The city informed Georgia Emergency Management and Georgia's Environmental Division that a collapsed sewer-main line resulted in 94,500 gallons of raw sewage entering Peachtree Creek in January 2012.

More than a month later, the city revised the spill volume to 22.26 million gallons.

According to a consent order, the city stated that there was a failure of communication between programs within the city's watershed bureau, which led to the untimely discovery and notification.

However, Watershed Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman that since then, the department has integrated its spill response team to incorporate flow volume measurements as well as data that is gathered in the field.

"We discovered with that data that spill was happening a few days before we actually saw it in the field," explained Macrina. She said the leak was hard to locate because of the thick vegetation in the area.

Investigators said the spill was caused by rain that softened up the dirt on the stream bank and caused the stream bank to fail.

"We are also working to stabilize the stream bank and replace about 800 feet of the pipe section," Macrina said.

Watershed Management officials said because of the new integrated spill response team, they have been able to prevent 10 spills in the last four months.



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