Sewage spills plaguing neighborhoods near Ocmulgee

Recent heavy rains caused about 65,000 gallons of sewage to spill into Sabbath Creek this past weekend, and there were other spills in the area Thursday, according to Macon Water Authority officials.

A spill report released Thursday indicated that the spill was along the network of sewage and gas easements that run behind the Riverview neighborhood, which is sandwiched between Interstate 75 and the Ocmulgee River. The easements are often used as walking and biking paths by residents.

The area has been disinfected with lime, and the sewage no longer was escaping, according to the report.

Darryl Macy, distribution conveyance manager for the water authority, said workers spent much of Thursday, however, responding to another major spill in the area.

“Honestly, we work on this every day,” he said. “If you go back there, our manholes are 4 feet tall and the river is 9 feet tall. Basically we’re pumping river through our system. The manholes are not watertight or airtight.”

Cheryl Rozier, who lives on Willowdale Drive in Riverside Park, said she could see and smell sewage from her backyard.

A trail of about 20 feet runs from her yard through the woods toward Sabbath Creek.

“There is crap for miles, toilet paper and trash,” she said. “Every time it rains, I call the Macon Water Authority and the EPA. That doesn’t stop the odor, and it is a health violation to have raw sewage overflowing.”

Macy said the sewage does not pose a serious health risk.

“If you see sewage, you don’t want to go near it or touch it. Keep your kids and pets away. But according to our lab, there’s been zero impact on the environment from these spills,” he said, citing heavily diluted sewage because of the river water.

In recent months, authority officials have examined the nearby Lennox Drive lift station, which pumps sewage uphill toward the sewage treatment plant.

Water authority officials have said recent northeast Bibb development is contributing to higher flows, more erosion and more illegal construction dumping in sewers.

There are plans to enlarge the lift station to add capacity for proposed residential developments in northeast Bibb.

Macy said at least three of the several major spills handled by the water authority in the last year occurred near Sabbath Creek.

“Sewer systems are not designed to hold water. They’re designed to hold sewage,” he said. “With the ground being saturated, there’s nowhere for the water to go.”

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Ashley Tusan Joyner, call 744-4347.