spilled out of the plant.
Hopkins said the partiallytreated sewage was piped to the old plant first, which is located further downstream and was left operational for emergencies like floods. The water was contained in the old plant’s basins, but that area was completely flooded, so the WSA didn’t know how much of the sewage remained at the old plant and how much spilled over to the Yellow River. The water remaining at the old plant is being pumped back into the newer plant to be treated, Hopkins said.
He said the new plant, which was built in 2007, is located above the 150-year floodplain for the area, which is why most of the plant avoided flooding. If the old plant was still the main plant, the flood would have completely shut it down.
“It’s a good thing that our board did that two years ago. If we had been in the old plant, this would have been a catastrophe. We would not have been operating for days and weeks,” Hopkins said.
Because of the spill, WSA officials will be taking water samples downstream over the next seven days to determine the amount of sewage, but Hopkins said he hoped the increased water flows would dissipate the concentration by the time it gets to Jackson Lake. In addition, the WSA notified the Georgia Environmental Protection Division of the spill and will place signs up along the Yellow River once the water recedes.
“The water will take some time to get to Jackson and will have a long way to dissipate and dilute. It sounds like a lot, and it was declared a major spill, but compared to what other counties are facing right now, it’s really light.” Hopkins said.
In addition to the sewage, the Yellow River also contains a lot of tree and other debris, much of which was been carried south from Rockdale and Gwinnett counties, where the flooding was worse.
As far as other infrastructural damage, Hopkins said flow rates had been steady so there are not likely any major problems, but the county will have to wait for the water to recede before surveying the effects.
Land Application System Manager David Croom said the city’s systems have not had any problems and County Water Resources Director Karl Kelley said the facility’s water-providing plants at Cornish Creek and City Pond have also not been effected.
In fact, Kelley said the increased flows of Cornish Creek and the Alcovy River have been beneficial because they’ve raised the level at Lake Varner. The Cornish Creek Water Plant is running all three pumps from the Alcovy River.