UPDATE - MACON, GA - Grease, drought blamed for latest sewage spill

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Grease, drought blamed for latest sewage spill By Christopher Schwarzen The Macon Telegraph

The Macon Water Authority reported its 13th major sewage overflow of the year this week.

The number is more than double last year's total, and water authority crews blame the drought for increased problems.

MAJOR SEWAGE OVERFLOWS REPORTED  Feb. 7: Lake Wildwood subdivision. Blockage caused by poor pipe installation.  March 7: Kensington Drive. The line broke after a stormwater pipe settled on it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 July 4: Country Oaks Drive. Caused by grease in the line.

 July 7: Riverside Drive. Caused by root blockage.

 Tuesday: Mumford Road and Mercer University Drive. Caused by grease, roots in the line.

Crews found and contained the spill Tuesday while clearing easements along sewerage near Mumford Road and Mercer University Drive, said George Greer, a water authority collection systems assistant manager.

The overflow, estimated to be about 20,000 gallons, ran for several feet along the ground but never entered Rocky Creek, about 2,500 feet away, Greer said. The apparent cause was a grease blockage caused by a bad pipe joint. The grease probably originated from an apartment complex linking with the line. The sewage backed up and exited via a manhole.

"We figured it ran for about three days," Greer said Friday.

The overflow was reported to the state's Environmental Protection Division which is currently investigating previous spills this year including one through Ocmulgee National Monument property.

The water authority was fined $15,000 by the state for an overflow at Lake Wildwood on Feb. 7 because of the lake's recreational usage.

Attempts to confirm Tuesday's report to the EPD were unsuccessful Friday.

Greer said the drought is one reason spills have occurred more frequently this year.

There were six reported major spills last year for which the water authority paid a $7,500 fine. A major spill is anything 10,000 gallons are more.

"When there isn't as much flow through the pipes, the grease tends to slow down and coagulate," he said.

"I expect if the drought lessens, we'll have less overflows next year."

The water authority is considering purchasing more equipment to clear sewage lines and may hire more personnel.

Crews have been busy this summer conducting tests for grease blockages.

"We're trying to do all these things so there aren't as many problems next year," he said


-- Doris (reaper1@mindspring.com), July 29, 2000


MWA reports its fifth major sewage spill

By Christopher Schwarzen The Macon Telegraph

Reports of another major sewage overflow will likely result in a second enforcement action this year against the Macon Water Authority.

State officials said Thursday a fifth major overflow reported Wednesday at Emerson Circle near Bloomfield and Rocky Creek roads will force them to take action against the water authority.

The authority's board agreed in February to pay more than $20,000 in fines for sewage spills occurring last summer and fall. Already this year, the authority has cleared five spills measuring 10,000 gallons or larger, two more than last year at this date.

"They're already under an order to fix things," said Beverly Miles, an Environmental Protection Division investigator. "But now we're wrapping up (this year's spills) into some kind of action. I'm not sure what steps we'll be taking."

Frank Sanders, the authority's field operations director, said Wednesday's spill contaminated a tributary of Tobesofkee Creek. It measures more than 10,000 gallons.

"The cause appears to be grease and roots," Sanders said Thursday.

Once again, the authority followed its new public notification policy passed in February. Instead of waiting seven days to run a legal advertisement in the newspaper, it is notifying media outlets within 24 hours of major spills in hopes of warning the public of health impacts from sewage spills.

A Macon Telegraph investigation shows fecal coliform levels in contaminated waterways often are thousands of times higher than state limits the first two days after an overflow is cleared.

By following the state law, residents might not know of a spill until after they'd been exposed to diseases like E.coli or hepatitis A.

Sanders indicated crews also were busy cleaning up another overflow Thursday at Bloomfield, but he didn't know how serious problems were there.

"It's near a street and may not be getting into (state) waters," he said.

There was no further information on this overflow Thursday.

The water authority latest enforcement order requires it to:

Notify the state of any spill entering a waterway - not just those measuring 10,000 gallons or larger. Submit a plan within three months for surveying the entire sewage system. Develop a plan within 30 days to prevent spills in or near the Ocmulgee National Monument, where one occurred last summer. Continue monitoring its grease management plan for restaurants. Continue water sampling where spills have occurred. The authority says its plan for decreasing sewage overflows includes spending $50 million to $75 million on sewer maintenance, construction and rehabilitation during the next 10 to 15 years.

The authority reported 22 major overflows during 2000.

A list of major sewage spills and causes in 2001:

Feb. 5, 5821 Bowman Road. Blockage caused by paper and grease in the line.

Feb. 10, 4344 W. Highland Drive. Caused by grease and a sag in the line.

Feb. 12, Mamie Carter Drive. Caused by grease, old clothes, sticks and rags.

March 6, Williamson Road. Sand, grease and rags caused the blockage.

March 14, Emerson Circle. Grease and roots were the cause.


-- Doris (nocents@bellsouth.net), March 16, 2001.

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