DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage are still spilling into a local stream after the county promised to fix it's sewage problem years ago.
Since Jan. 13th, nearly 830,000 gallons of untreated sewage have flowed from DeKalb County creeks into the South River, an urban river that originates north of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson and ends at Jackson Lake.
“Most of the sewage is into creeks. Some of it is from Snapfinger Wastewater Treatment plant. Nothing. Not one peep from EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), EPD (Environmental Protection Division), from anyone about this,” Jackie Echols, president of South River Watershed Alliance, told Channel 2’s Katie Walls.
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“What the county needs to do is it needs to do its part to control its sanitary sewer overflows,” said Echols.
In 2010, DeKalb County agreed to make major improvements to its sewer system in an effort to eliminate untreated sewage spills.
This came after a federal and state complaint alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and the Georgia Water Quality Control Act.
“We’re seven years into it. We’re worse now in terms of volume than we were seven years ago. So where is the progress?” Echols asked.
Walls asked that question to DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond. “Our government is working to address capacity issues in our sewer system and to continue to reduce sanitary sewer overflows,” said Thurmond.
“With 60 percent of sanitary sewer overflows in DeKalb County caused by fats, oils and grease being poured down sink drains, residents and businesses also play an important partnership role with DeKalb County.”
Walls questioned the Environmental Protection Division about how these spills are allowed to occur. “The Georgia Environmental Protection Division, or EPD, continues to enforce environmental laws and rules regarding spills in DeKalb County," an EPD official said. "The county is required to report spills to EPD including date, location and estimated amount of the spill. The consent decree includes stipulated penalties for spills.”
But for Echols, a fine is not enough.
The South River Watershed Alliance is teaming up with the Nature Conservancy just in time for Earth Day to educate neighbors living along the 63-mile stretch of shoreline.
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