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Our Creeks and Your Kitchen

With a $1.3 billion initiative in the works by the Dept. of Watershed Management, the health of local creeks and drinking water will improve, with your help.

Just about every weekend for the past eight years, DeAnn Peterson and her son step outside their back door in Tucker to walk their small corner of Camp Creek. Their typical creek-bed journey brings Great Blue Heron visits, darter fish watching, and your typical floating trash pickup.

But over the last two months Camp Creek brought them a very different story down her riverbed... Thick black sewer water that stuck around for days before Mother Nature was able to flow it further downstream.

The Culprits? Two sewer force main breaks. One from lift station #28 by the old Sears building and the other a private sewer lift station behind .

The Power of Social Media 

DeAnn Peterson was disgusted. She and her family have enjoyed this meandering brook for almost a decade now, and with two sewage spills in the same number of months, she felt she had to do something.

But what can we as everyday citizens do to help change the system? Why, produce a video and post it on YouTube, of course.

Her story was forwarded by friends on Facebook, and even made it up stream via email to the Dept of Watershed Management.

Charles Lambert, Deputy Director of Construction and Maintenance for the Dept. of Watershed Management explains, “We are in the process of a major upgrade to lift station {#28} and replacement of the PVC force main.”

But there’s a bigger story in the works, one many of us knew nothing about.

70% of DeKalb County’s sewer spills are grease and debris related. Your kitchen grease costs us millions.

How does the county expect to get the word out? Why social media of course.

“We need to embrace social media,” explains Joe Basista, Director of DeKalb County’s Dept of Watershed Management, “We have issued requests to bring in outside consultants to help with public outreach.”

Many of us grew up watching our Grandmothers pour kitchen grease into cans to be used later that week to fry up the next family meal.

This simple act of pouring your grease into containers could quite possibly stop the next sewer spill overflow and effectively keep our creeks and rivers just a little bit healthier.

Do you think this will work? Tell us in the comments below-

Who knew? Not many. Hence the Dept of Watershed Management plans to spend millions on a “robust public education and outreach program, so all our citizens understand the need to keep grease out of the system,” explains Director Basista. “We’d all be better off if we just contained our grease.”

This $1.3 Billion consent decree effort involves “cleaning, inspecting, assessing, and repairing the sewer system over the next eight years.” Basista also plans to “communicate with the public on a quarterly basis using a mix of media – personal, print, radio, TV, and social networking. "We want to assure that all our residents get the message," Batista said.

They’ve adopted the “F.O.G.” acronym for “fats, oil, and grease” in hopes the public will understand we all need to do our part.

We as individuals can help fix the problem so in an effort to stop sewage spills, lift the “fog” and keep your F.O.G. contained and thrown away.

The Dept of Watershed Management also plans to work with organizations involved in water quality issues such as Burnt Fork Creek Watershed Alliance and the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

So what’s the state of Camp Creek now? Here in Tucker the raw sewage has flowed downstream on its way to the Oconee River, Altamaha River, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. Not a pretty picture.

And that is why DeAnn Peterson is not done with her mission. She wants answers.

Lesson learned. When you have something to say and want to get the word out? Let the web do your talking.

Jane Patla Tanner April 27, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Great work DeAnn and Pam - Thank you for your activism!
russ taylor May 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM
My company, SEWERLOCK, is currently working with the DeKalb Department of Management and it appears that the sewage is coming from a unsecured manhole cover. I will alert the department that further investigation should be done in areas upstream-SEWERLOCK is an easy to install manhole security sub-ring and locked pan that prevents sanitary sewer overflows! Russell Taylor SEWERLOCK

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