Atlanta Dumps Raw Sewage That Ends Up In Gulf

Fulton County spilled more than 40 million gallons of raw sewage into local waterways in recent months, including the Chattahoochee River. Screenshot: AJC FILE PHOTO

Get A Load Of This

| This winter, Atlanta has dumped 40 million gallons of raw sewage into a river that flows to the Gulf of Mexico

By: Arielle Kass, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mar 13, 2019

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. – Since mid-November, heavy rains that overwhelmed Fulton County’s sewage system caused more than 40 million gallons of untreated sewage to spill into waterways from Camp Creek to the Chattahoochee River.

There were six separate instances when more than a million gallons were spilled at a time.

One 14 million gallon spill into Morning Creek in South Fulton in January was the worst spill statewide in at least five years, state officials said.

The recent spate represents a huge increase in sewage spills for the county since it entered a 2010 consent agreement with the state Environmental Protection Division to reduce water pollution.

The county spilled just 392,000 gallons of raw sewage in 2016 and 690,000 in 2017; the totals for 2018 were just over 400,000 gallons until November, when the major spills began.

David Clark, Fulton’s director of public works, said before 2010, the county hadn’t been required to track spills to the level it is now, but he did not think they had ever been this bad.

“This was a very, very abnormal situation,” he said. “The trend has been down.”

The Chattahoochee River is a tributary of the Apalachicola River, emptying from Florida into in the Gulf of Mexico.

Under the consent agreement with the EPD, the county has paid $157,450 in penalties for spills, and the total will rise with the latest failures, which represent continued violations that have harmed water quality and the environment, and will cost taxpayers more money as the county tracks water quality and pays more fines.

Fulton is not the only local government dealing with sewage overflows in recent months.

At the end of December, DeKalb County reported 25 sewer spills totaling more than 1 million gallons, and Cobb County had a spill along Nickajack Creek that lasted more than a week and spilled an estimated 13 million gallons.

Fulton’s issues have drawn the attention of state regulators, and in February, the EPD’s watershed compliance manager sent a letter to county officials telling them they had violated the 2010 agreement and the state’s rules for water quality and control.

“Every spill is a big deal,” said Marzieh Shahbazaz, a compliance and enforcement program manager with the state environmental enforcement agency. “All these are huge.” Read more. 

Health Effects of Untreated Sewage

PURE EARTH – Life-threatening human pathogens carried by sewage include cholera, typhoid, and dysentery.

Other diseases resulting from sewage contamination of water include schistosomiasis, hepatitis A, intestinal nematode infections, and numerous others.

WHO estimates that worldwide, 1.5 million preventable deaths per year result from unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or hygiene. These deaths are mostly young children.

Another 860,000 children less than five years old are estimated to die annually as a direct or indirect result of the underweight or malnutrition associated with repeated diarrheal or intestinal nematode infections. Source. 

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