UPDATE - Macon records 14th major spill of the year

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Water Authority records another sewage spill

By Christopher Schwarzen The Macon Telegraph

The Macon Water Authority plugged another major sewage overflow Sunday night.

This time, sewage spilled into an unnamed creek running through a dense neighborhood at Rockbridge Road and Pierce Avenue.

The overflow is the 14th reported to the state Environmental Protection Division by Macon this year. It is the water authority's 13th major overflow. A major overflow is one of 10,000 gallons or larger. A March spill at Kensington Drive was downsized earlier this year.

Residents complained to the water authority Sunday evening that they were "smelling something horrible," said James Tucker Jr. of Rockbridge Road.

By 8:30 p.m., an hour after neighbors contacted the authority, crews confirmed a manhole had spilled over, sending sewage into the creek. The creek, which runs through several residents' front yards, eventually ends up in the Ocmulgee River.

"At first we weren't sure what that smell was," said Alfred Clay of Pierce Avenue. "It had rained recently and that's usually when you smell the paper plant. But this just didn't go away."

Clay told authority crews he suspected sewage began backing up Saturday. George Greer, a water authority collection systems assistant manager, said tree roots and grease were the cause.

"We're not sure how much sewage spilled there, but we reported it to the state as a major," Greer said Monday.

Attempts to confirm that report with the EPD were unsuccessful Monday.

Crews worked several hours Sunday and Monday to contain and clean up property in the area, Greer said. The line will be thoroughly checked for tree roots and rehabilitated.

"I thought that line had already been rehabbed following an earlier spill there," Greer said. "But evidently it wasn't."

A spill from the same line approximately six years ago sent sewage into one resident's house, neighbors said. Water authority crews tried in vain Sunday to reach the resident. Neighbors suspect she is out of town.

Water authority officials confirmed Monday they paid damages to the resident but weren't positive how much. The settlement after the spill included cleanup and damages.

There was no evidence Monday that sewage leaked into the house again.

The water authority was fined $15,000 for a Feb. 7 spill at Lake Wildwood and several other spills. It is also under investigation for a June 27 spill that ran through the Ocmulgee National Monument property.

The water authority also paid $7,500 in February for six major overflows in 1999. The water authority is responsible for approximately 700 miles of sewerage.


-- Doris (reaper1@mindspring.com), August 08, 2000

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