Jan 03, 2019

New Year's Eve Storm Leads to Combined Sewer Overflow

A pump failure in Cobb County, Ga., lead to a combined sewer overflow

Combined sewer overflows triggered by New Year's Eve rains in Atlanta area
Combined sewer overflows triggered by New Year's Eve rains in Atlanta area

On New Year’s Eve, a pump failure at a water treatment plant in Cobb County, Ga., caused untreated sewage and storm water to flow into one of the Chattahoochee River’s main tributaries New Year’s day. Combined sewer overflow continues to flow into the Nickajack Creek, but the county’s drinking water is safe.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the dry area of the pump at the South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility got water inside of it and caused the pump to fail, triggering the overflow. While the land affected by the overflow is owned by the county and remote, workers are still posting warning signs and closing nearby trails until the water can be removed from the pump and the spill stopped.

“With all the rain, it’ll be difficult to come up with an exact estimate, but they’ll make a guess based on what they saw of the overflow at the manholes,” said Lewis Hays, a compliance manager with the state’s watershed protection group, whose agency will be investigating the spill.

According to the National Weather Service, 2018 was one of the wettest years for nearby metro Atlantic, with more than 65 in. of rain. The already rain-laden area likely contributed to the severity of the combined sewer overflow. While backup systems were in place, they were taken out in the spill.

“It will be all-hands-on-deck until we can address the situation and figure out what caused the problem,” said Cobb Commission Chairman Mike Boyce in a news release.

In the meantime, the county will borrow extra pumps from neighboring municipalities to help clear the clogged pipes, as reported by Fox 5 Atlanta.