Heavy rains burden sewer lines

Decatur homeowner Mette Sorensen said she’s frustrated after a major sewer spill occurred on her property at on Nov. 12.

Sorensen said she moved to Hood Circle in Decatur last year in July and was told by the previous owners there were issues with the sewer lines by the house.

“When we were looking at the house [the previous owners] had to disclose there was an issue, so that’s when we were first aware of it,” Sorensen said. “The county said they put in some different drains, so we thought we’ll take our chances and up until [Nov. 12] everything had been fine.”

Sorensen said she’s concerned about exposing her children to possible contamination if the sewer line issues are not fixed.

“Until the county fixes the pipes, manhole, sewer or whatever the issue is, we can’t really do anything,” Sorensen said. “It would be great if they could figure out what’s going on. I know the previous owners had a lot of issues.”

Sorensen said the county has agreed to pay for the cleanup.

Sorensen isn’t the only homeowner affected by sewer spills after heavy rainfalls. In a period of just more than nine hours on Nov. 12, DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management reported three major sewage spills, all of which were attributed to the heavy rains experienced in the area. It is unclear how the county determines what is considered to be a major spill, but each report indicates a visual sighting of more than 10,000 gallons of spilled water.

At 1:18 p.m. on Nov. 12, a major spill was reported at Sorensen’s residence. As reported by the county, an eight-inch line was overflowing into a tributary of Sugar Creek.

Five hours later, another major spill was reported at 1615 Melanie Court in Decatur which was attributed to a damaged 18-inch manhole. The spill was running into Shoal Creek.

Later in the evening of Nov. 12, at 10:40 p.m. another major spill was reported at 1440 Sowell Estate in Stone Mountain. The excess water spilled into an unnamed tributary of South Fork Peachtree Court.

“[The county] is great in their response. They came out within 45 minutes, but they don’t do anything. They look at it and then say, ‘well we can’t do anything until it stops raining,’” Sorensen said. “I would like to know what their plan is to fix this. There’s sewage in our yard and we’d like that cleaned up.”

According to the county spokesperson Quinn Hudson, the intensity of rain over a specific period of time and the overall condition of the sewer pipes at the time of the rain event can contribute to sewer spills.

Hudson said DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management has installed more than 200 flow monitors that warn in advance if pipes are reaching maximum capacity. Hudson also said that more than 60 percent of all reported sewer spills can be attributed to clogs caused by fats, oils and grease being poured into drains.


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