Thursday, October 24, 2019

Oconee County Reported Minor Sewer Spill Near Subdivision South Of Oconee County High School

***Also Announced Required Drought Response***

Oconee County reported its second sewer spill of the year to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division last week after a sewer force main break in a wooded area behind Cooperville subdivision off Union Church Road south of Oconee County High School.

According to a news release from the county, the Oconee County Water Resources Department was notified of a sewer odor in Copperville subdivision at about 11 a.m. on Oct. 14, 2019.

Water Resources Department workers found sewage coming from a sewer force main in a wooded area behind Copperville subdivision, according to the news release sent out just before 3 p.m. on Oct. 15.

The sewage was flowing into a small creek, according to the news release. The news release does not identify the creek, but the area is near the headwaters of Calls Creek, which flows through Watkinsville and then on to the Middle Oconee River.

The county blamed “pipe fatigue” for the break in the sewer main and said approximately 6,090 gallons of waste water was released into the creek. A sewer spill is classified as "minor" by the state when less than 10,000 gallons is discharged.

The county sent out an unrelated news release on Tuesday announcing that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has classified Oconee County at Level 1 Drought Response.

The classification requires the county to begin a public information campaign to help citizens better understand drought, its impact on water supplies and the need for water conservation.

Sewer Spill Response

The Water Resources Department notified both the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the Oconee County Environmental Health Department about the spill behind Copperville subdivision, according to the county’s news release.

Sign At Spill Site

The county also began testing for upstream and downstream water quality, according to the release. Lab results for water quality will be forthcoming, the release said, and will be sent to the EPD.

The sewer main was repaired and back to normal use by 3 p.m. on Oct. 14, according to the news release. Signs notifying the public of the spill were placed in the spill area, the release said.

On Jan. 2 the county reported a break in a forced sewer line on Malcolm Bridge Road that resulted in a major sewer spill of approximately 65,000 gallons of wastewater into Barber Creek.

Site Of Spill In Red (From County)
High School And Civic Center At Top, Left

The county blamed “pipe fatigue” for that spill as well and subsequently decommissioned the sewer line, saying it had been the source of numerous problems.

Level 1 Drought Response

The county’s news release on Oct. 22 was in response to the declaration by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division that “worsening drought conditions throughout most of the state have prompted a Level 1 Drought Response.”

The declaration requires public water utilities in the 103 affected counties to begin a public information campaign to encourage water conservation.

As part of its public information campaign, Oconee County Water Resources has created a section on the Oconee County website dedicated to drought and conservation information, according to the county’s news release.

Drought Map (Click To Enlarge)

Information and updates will also be provided via the county’s social media channels, the news release said.

Oconee County Water Resources suggests Oconee County residents reduce showers by two minutes to save five gallons per shower, limit automatic dishwashing to full loads to save at least two gallons per load, wash full loads of laundry to save 45 gallons per load, fix leaky faucets, and install rain sensors on irrigation systems to avoid watering during rain.

The outdoor water use schedule outlined in the Water Stewardship Act of 2010, which limits most outdoor water use to the hours between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m., remains in effect, the news release states.

The current flash drought in the state is primarily agricultural, according to the Georgia Environmental Protection Divison, but it can also affect water supply.

It came on quickly due to the intense daytime heating, lack of rainfall and sudden decrease in soil moisture experienced in September, according to information released by the EPD.

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