Oconee County on Tuesday announced a major sewer spill into Barber Creek at Malcolm Bridge Road as a result of a break in a forced main leading to the county’s Land Application Site on Rocky Branch Road.
The actual break in the sewer line occurred sometime before noon on Monday, according to an email message Oconee County Utility department Director Wayne Haynie sent Tuesday afternoon.
That level of spill is classified by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division as a major spill, and Haynie said the county notified the EPD of the incident at 12:40 p.m. on Monday.
Series Of Spills
The county was plagued by sewer spills last year, including two on the same day, and had major problems with the operation of its Calls Creek sewage plant and its Rocky Branch LAS.
Haynie was brought aboard in August in the wake of those problems.
Haynie said on Tuesday that the spill was discovered by his staff doing routine monitoring of Barber Creek.
“We have not observed changes in color, odors or damage to aquatic life,” Haynie said of post-spill assessments his staff made. “We did not observe sewer debris in the creek.”
Haynie said signs have been posted along the break site of the spill and at Barber Creek and that the county spread lime along the flow pattern from the break to Barber Creek and covered it with mulch.
Cause Of Break
Haynie said that the break was in a 10-inch PVC force main that was constructed in approximately 2002 as part of the Mars Hill Road pumping station project.
The pipeline carries sewage from the Epps Bridge commercial corridor as well as industrial flow from Bogart.
Overall, the Mars Hill station pumps approximately 130,000 gallons per day to the Rocky Branch LAS for treatment, Haynie said in his email message.
The county is in the process of diverting sewage from the Epps Bridge corridor now going to the LAS to the Calls Creek Sewage plant on the north side of Watkinsville.
As part of that diversion, the county is replacing upgrading the pump station at McNutt Creek near Kohl’s and increasing the size of the sewer line running down Daniells Bridge Road and Government Station Road to the Calls Creek Plant.
Haynie said the county is taking a series of steps to increase monitoring of the force main that broke on Monday.
These include daily checks of the line, continued stream monitoring, and the investigation of all air valves to make sure they are the right type and are working properly.
On Tuesday afternoon Vickie Soutar from Oconee Waters told Haynie that her group wants to be involved with testing.
She said Oconee Waters will be testing for E. Coli in the stream as soon as possible.