DeKalb County responds to major sewer spills - CBS46 News

DeKalb County responds to major sewer spills

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

DeKalb County Watershed workers responded to the scene of a major sewer spill on Melanie Court in Decatur Thursday. They cleaned up the mess about 24 hours after CBS46 exposed the problem.

The spill dumped more than 36,000 gallons of sewage into Shoal Creek, which infuriates environmentalists like Jackie Echols.

“This area has been experiencing these types of overflows for years, literally years,” Echols said.

Echols is president of the South River Watershed Alliance and said the county is not doing enough to solve the problem of sewer spills.

“You’re creating a situation where you have an open sewer and it happens time, and time, and time again. Every time it rains and every time it does rain like this, this is going to happen,” Echols said.

In 2011, DeKalb County entered into a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency to address the spills with significantly increased levels of cleaning and maintenance, but Echols said it hasn’t made a difference.

“I anticipate that this year will be the worst. During the first quarter of this year, there are over 800,000 gallons of sewage dumped into the South River watershed basin alone in three months,” Echols said.

County officials met with CEO Michael Thurmond on Thursday to discuss the issue, but would not talk about it on camera. At the end of the day, the current consent decree does not require upgrades to the entire sewer system.

“Actually, as long as they report these, they can keep doing this and that’s what’s happening here. There is no accountability. There is no accountability anywhere in DeKalb County,” Echols said.

County officials informed CBS46 they have funded a capital improvement program to begin system repairs and rehabilitation, but the federal consent decree which expires in three years does not penalize the county for failing to make improvements.

Environmentalists say the deal is too soft and needs to be renegotiated.

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