Nearly half a million gallons of raw sewage spilled into local water after rain

Nearly half a million gallons of raw sewage spilled into local water after rain

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Rain in the last several days caused 20 sewer spills in DeKalb County, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage into local waterways.

Channel 2's Craig Lucie was in DeKalb County, where officials said they had 20 spills after last Friday's downpours.

Lucie learned that just eight of those spills added up to 438,700 gallons of raw sewage spilled into the water.

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Channel 2 Action News has covered the repeated raw sewage spills in DeKalb County for decades. Leaders say the problems stem from years of mismanagement.

In 2010, the government ordered the county to fix its sewer system, but it has had ongoing problems.

On Friday, epic downpours created a stinky mess.


Lucie drove all around DeKalb County on Tuesday and found multiple notices of sanitary sewer spill signs near creeks and streams.

Lachlan Brown's Decatur home backs up to Shoal Creek, where the county says nearly 112,000 gallons of sewage spilled.

"There was water constantly coming out about that high off the top," Brown says of recent rain. "I didn't like it. I prefer it didn't spill in my backyard."

A neighbor sent Lucie a video showing more than 106,000 gallons of sewage exploding into a south fork of Peachtree Creek. Lucie learned another 80,000 gallons spilled into Doolittle Creek in Decatur.

On Deerwood Drive in Decatur, at least three manholes were overflowing with raw sewage, releasing an awful stench.

Lucie spoke to DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, who said there is no easy solution.

"This is decades of neglect and mismanagement," Thurmond told Lucie. "Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix of this magnitude. It takes time to get it restored and repaired."

The ongoing work to fix the problem started in 2017 when the county approved spending more than $100 million to repair and restore aging sewer pipes.

The county says at the end of the third quarter of 2018, major sewer spills were down 42%. Despite these huge numbers, DeKalb County ended 2018 with fewer spills and spill volume.