• Crews demolishing home to help fix DeKalb's notorious sewer system

    By: Sophia Choi

    Updated:

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has covered dozens and dozens of sewer spills over the years in DeKalb County. But today, crews are taking a big step to get to the root of the problem. 

    Crews are demolishing a woman’s home that the county purchased so they can begin construction and repairs to the sewer system. The home on Melanie Court has had 22 repeat spills since 2014 – the most in the county.

    “It’s been bad. You can’t let the dogs out in the backyard, you can’t let the kids play in the backyard,” said neighbor Byron Blake. 

    Channel 2 Action News showed you exclusively when crews put in flow monitors in January to keep track of problems. Since then, the county bought the property for $315,000 and moved the family for another $24,000. Now, it's demolishing the house.

    “We’ve had more sewer spills in this one site than any other site in DeKalb County,” said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond. 


    RELATED STORIES:


    Officials say the problem is that the pipes in the backyard are at a 90-degree angle, causing clogs and overflows -- more than 630,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled over the years. 

    “We believe that will eliminate this hydraulic condition you have in the backyard,” said Darren Eastall, with DeKalb Watershed Management.

    This is all part of the county’s $1 billion plan to fix its infrastructure under an EPD consent decree. 

    “I think working these top priorities first, we can stop the spills,” said DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader. 

    Neighbors said seeing demolition crews at the house is a welcome sight. They’re used to seeing different kinds of county workers. 

    “We’d have this heavy rain, and then you’d see a convoy of trucks come down the street and you know they basically put fill dirt in and lime and basically mitigate the problem for the time being,” Breedlove said.

    “We’ve had lots of sewage issues over the years and now to see the county stepping up and getting started, it’s a great thing,” Blake said.

    Thurmond said it’s an investment in the county’s future and its residents, including one man he apologized to. 

    “We really want to apologize for any inconvenience you and your neighbors may have suffered over the years, but this is a new day,” Thurmond said. 

    The work should start by December, with the pipes expected to be replaced by 2020.

    Next Up: