DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond has issued emergency orders for county workers and contractors to inspect all sewer pipes near Nancy Creek in Brookhaven and Snapfinger Creek in unincorporated Lithonia after massive sewer spills were discovered. The spills have been reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
County officials say the Nancy Creek spill, which included nearly 4 million gallons of raw sewage, is the biggest spill recorded in the last 10 years in the county’s consent decree, DeKalb’s binding agreement with federal and state authorities to improve its sewer system. County inspectors discovered that a 10-inch diameter pipe compromised by soil erosion caused the spill. Work crews contained the spill and made repairs on Aug. 17. Additional repairs to be completed by Aug. 30 include the replacement of 600 feet of root-clogged pipe with a 12-inch diameter pipe, followed by stream bank restoration and landscaping.
The county learned of the Nancy Creek spill on Aug. 8 after being notified by the City of Atlanta about high bacteria counts in the Nancy Creek area. Due to the remote location and large search area, it took a team of four inspectors nine days to locate the source of the spill by analyzing water samples from the creek and nearby tributaries.
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond has directed staff to issue an emergency task order to inspect hundreds of miles of pipes parallel to county creeks and tributaries. DeKalb County records reveal that due to location and staffing limitations, pipes in some areas have not been routinely inspected.
“The preservation of our waterways is critical to sustaining a high quality of life in DeKalb County,” CEO Thurmond said. “It is imperative that we ensure our infrastructure is properly maintained and inspected on a regular basis to ensure the protection of our creeks, tributaries and ecosystem as a whole.”
Caution signs will remain posted in the Nancy Creek area as the county continues to warn residents to avoid the spill site.
Residents in the unincorporated Lithonia area near Eagle’s Beek Circle were warned to avoid the area after a spill was discovered on Aug. 24. Department of Watershed Management workers located the spill on a 48-inch creek crossing just north of the Snapfinger Wastewater Treatment Plant after tracking high bacteria counts in the area.
Officials say although the Lithonia spill does not affect drinking water, residents in the area were warned to avoid the spill site and keep their pets from the waterway until further notice.
WSB TV reported earlier this year that DeKalb County was on track for a 63-percent increase in sewer spills, most of them expected from heavy rain and flooding. That was not the case, however, with the Nancy Creek spill.
County spokesman Andrew Cauthen said the cause of the Lithonia spill and the amount of sewage spilled has not yet been determined.