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MWA suffers 10th major sewage spill of year Residential grease buildup appears to be cause of east Macon overflow, official says

By Christopher Schwarzen The Macon Telegraph

Bibb County's major sewage overflows have reached double digits this year.

A contractor searching for damaged sewage lines found the Macon Water Authority's 10th major overflow last week, water authority officials acknowledged Monday.

AT A GLANCE 2000 sewage overflows and causes 1. Feb. 7, Lake Wildwood subdivision. Blockage caused by poor pipe installation.

2. March 7, Kensington Drive. The line broke after a stormwater pipe settled on it.

3. March 9, Bass and New Forsyth roads. Tree roots backed up a buried manhole.

4. March 21, Mercer University Boulevard and Holland Drive. A tree trunk and large rocks blocked the line.

5. April 21, Rose Street. Grease and other debris in the manhole.

6. May 18, Corbin Avenue Lift Station near I-75. Caused by a malfunction at the lift station.

7. May 23, Riverside Drive and King Alfred Drive. Caused by grease in the line.

8. June 6, Roff and Pio Nono avenues. Caused by grease in the line.

9. June 18, Plumtree Street and Fairview Avenue . Caused by grease in the line.

10. June 27, Karen Drive. Caused by grease and roots in the line.

Jordan, Jones & Goulding engineers reported an overflow near Karen Drive in east Macon on June 27. Water authority crews worked for 10 hours to contain the raw sewage, said Raymond Astumian, a distribution collection manager.

"We estimate a little more than 10,000 gallons escaped," Astumian said. "Residential grease buildup appears to be the cause."

Most of the raw sewage was contained on ground near the manhole where the overflow occurred, Astumian said. Some -exactly how much is unknown - did end up in a stream that is part of the Walnut Creek watershed.

Water authority crews used large vacuums to clear the sewage and have begun monitoring the stream for coliform levels. Coliform can indicate the presence of fecal coliform, a bacteria that causes sickness in humans if ingested.

The overflow has also been reported to the state, Astumian said. State offices were closed Monday for the July 4 holiday so attempts to verify that were not possible.

The state Environmental Protection Division has said it is investigating two previous overflows, including one that ended up in a stream running through the Ocmulgee National Monument property June 18.

The EPD fined the water authority $15,000 earlier this year for a number of spills including one at Lake Wildwood. It also fined the water authority $7,500 for six overflows during 1999.

Fines are paid from customer fees.

Although the Ocmulgee National Monument is open, one trail on the premises is still closed due to high coliform levels. Park officials say they hope to reopen the trail this weekend.

"Our public health officials still don't feel safe about the coliform levels out there," said park Superintendent Jim David. "With the rain last week, however, things may be better this week. We're waiting for the water authority to test the stream again."

The spill at the park has hurt attendance, David said. A large business gathering last week was much smaller than anticipated. Company officials said some employees were leery to come the park for fear of getting sick, David said.

The water authority's executive director, Gene Holcomb, said Monday that Jordan Jones & Goulding will continue canvassing the Walnut Creek watershed for damaged lines. It is also mapping sewerage for a database.

This will help the water authority maintain the lines, Holcomb said.

"We're trying just as hard to minimize these overflows," he said.

The water authority maintains 700 miles of sewerage.

-- Doris (, July 04, 2000


If I remember correctly, sewage, chemical, and gas/oil lines were the most likely to be affected by techinal mishaps. Correct me if I'm wrong.

-- Ruth Angell (bar, July 04, 2000.

Ruth, I believe you're absolutely correct, but when you have 10 major sewage spills in a matter of 5 months, it certainly makes me wonder if perhaps they are having technical mishaps, i.e. problems with their monitoring devises. At any rate, I posted this item because of the sewage spill of May 18th due to a malfunction at a lift station which had not previously been reported.

-- Doris (, July 05, 2000.

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