DeKalb County reports massive 9.2 million gallon sewage spill

The county says too much rain in February caused a 20-millon gallon storage facility to reach capacity.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County is testing the South River for contamination after the second largest sewage spill in county history.

Channel 2 Action News first reported on the more than 9 million gallon spill near Meadow Creek Path on Monday night.

Channel 2’s Sophia Choi went to the nearby Snapfinger Water Treatment Plant on Tuesday, which county leaders say is where told problem started.

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The plant could not handle all the rainwater that fell last week and that led to a backup – forcing raw sewage to spill into the river.

“When it starts to rain for days, I cringe because I know what’s coming,” said South River Watershed Alliance President Jackie Echols.

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She told Choi that she couldn’t believe what she was seeing the last few days when more than 9 million gallons of sewage leaked into the river over three days last week.

“Honestly, I had to sit and look because I just knew the comma was in the wrong place,” Echols said.

The county says too much rain in February caused a 20-millon gallon storage facility to reach capacity.

Atop that, a missing clarifier caused less water to be treated and triggered a bigger backup.

“We had to move the clarifier, which was located right here, to make room for the new construction,” said Maria Houser, DeKalb consent decree director.

A new plant that can handle 18 million more gallons a day is currently under construction. It is expected to be finished in 2022.

That’s two years after an EPA consent decree deadline to fix the county’s aging sewer system.

DeKalb County has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on trying to fix the sewage system.

Neighbors who live nearby say more needs to be done.

“It has been an unusually rainy season, but still — people in those positions shouldn’t be surprised when it rains,” said neighbor Richard Lamborn.

Crews cleared a storage facility in anticipation of the rain. But clearly, it wasn’t enough.

“You have to fix it – period,” Echols said.

Every time there’s a big sewage spill, the county is fined by the EPA.

County officials hope once the new plant is up and running, residents will see fewer spills.

DeKalb Watershed has done a lot of work, but people who work for the agency will tell you they still have a long way to go.