DECATUR, Ala. – Heavy rains this month have caused wastewater to overflow from manholes throughout the City of Decatur. Last week, WHNT tallied the initial total that was reported by Decatur Utilities. It was 4 million gallons.
The latest figures are in and the amount is much higher than that. There have been 20 million gallons of sewer water overflows in the city just this month. Every time wastewater overflows from manholes in Decatur, Decatur Utilities has to report it to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
This month DU filed 109 different reports to ADEM detailing more than 50 distinct overflows that occurred throughout the city. From February 6th to February 15th, more than 20 million gallons of wastewater overflowed from manholes.
Decatur Utilities said in the report, it attributes the overflows to the nearly nine inches of rain that fell from the 4th to the 13th. DU says each overflow was marked with a flag - cleaned of debris and cleaned by the utilities' personnel.
You might wonder where all that wastewater went. According to the reports, it was discharged into area waterways including:
- Flint creek
- Dry Branch Creek
- Betty Rye Ranch
- Black Branch
- Tennessee River (Wheeler Lake)
WHNT found that nearly half the wastewater that has overflowed from the sewer came from one manhole in a residential neighborhood. That manhole is located 1100 block of 6th Avenue Southwest. More than 3 million gallons of wastewater spilled from the manhole from the 6th through the 8th.
Then it overflowed again. Nearly 7 million gallons of wastewater overflowed from the 10th to the 15th. The wastewater that overflowed from this manhole as discharged into Dry Branch Creek.
According to the reports filed to ADEM, DU is continuing rehabilitation efforts to prevent future sanitary sewer overflows.
WHNT has been following this issue closely. According to documents filed with ADEM, it appears 6 million gallons of sewer water overflowed from manholes in all of 2019.
A review of the utility’s reports to ADEM shows an estimated 675,000 gallons in sewer water spills in December 2019. Decatur Utilities reported similar problems from October to December 2018, though on a much smaller scale, about 80,000 gallons of wastewater spills.