Department of Watershed Management Sends Notifications of Private Sewer Line Breaches

Department of Watershed Management Sends Notifications of Private Sewer Line Breaches

DECATUR, Ga. – The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (DWM) recently completed 400 miles of sewer pipe smoke testing, and identified public and private lines in need of repair.

The smoke testing of sewer lines is one type of required assessment outlined in a 2011 federal consent decree.  In this test, a nontoxic smoke is inserted in section of sewer pipe.  If smoke escapes through the ground, it indicates a breach in the sewer pipe.

“This field data we are collecting not only helps us rehabilitate and repair the public sewer lines, but also identifies issues in privately-owned sewer lateral pipes that contribute to sewer spills and overflows,”

said DWM Deputy Director Margaret Tanner.  “As we repair the public system, we must notify businesses and homeowners about the issues we have found on the private lateral lines.  Most of these would likely be inexpensive fixes.”

In the next two weeks, DWM will be sending 900 notifications to homeowners and businesses with a description of the issue and instructions on how they should proceed with repairs.  The issues typically range from irrigation connections into the public sewer, compromised private laterals, compromised cleanout caps, or issues where storm water runoff is illegally routed into the sewer system.  All of these issues allow rainwater to enter the sewer system and reduce the capacity for sewage.  In turn, these rain events cause sewer overflows, which pose a public health threat.

“Maintaining the public sewer system is in everyone’s best interest and we will need to work together to ensure the integrity of the system,” said Tanner. “This includes coordination with the cities that own and maintain their own storm water systems and that enforce storm connections in their jurisdictions.”

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