DeKalb County has reached a Clean Water Act settlement in the form of a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) that required implementation of certain sanitary sewer system programs and improvements. Most of this work is underway. These programs and improvements, which focus on the collection and aspects components of the County’s sewers, will ensure long-term protection of public health and the environment, particularly with respect to the rivers and streams in the County. The programs and improvements will also ensure that the County complies with the federal Clean Water Act and the Georgia Water Quality Control Act, and will improve the longevity of the County’s sewers for generations to come. The consent decree provides a road map for working cooperatively with the EPA and EPD.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) performed an audit of DeKalb County’s wastewater system in 2006, and began collecting and evaluating data on the numbers of sewer overflows in the County’s wastewater system. As a result of that audit, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) informed the County in January 2009 that the EPA believed that federal oversight was needed of the County’s efforts to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).
On December 20, 2011, DeKalb County entered into a consent decree with the EPA and EPD. Assessment and rehabilitation activities associated with the consent decree on the sanitary sewer collection system are scheduled to be completed in mid-2020.
The programs and improvements contained in the consent decree and required for compliance are occurring in communities identified as priority areas located throughout DeKalb County. Priority areas include, but are not limited to, the cities of Decatur, Lithonia, Stone Mountain, Clarkston, Doraville, Chamblee and Tucker.
To ensure that all property owners (business and residential) benefit from these improvements to the sewer system, construction activity has been distributed across all seven commission districts within the County (incorporated and unincorporated).
The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management’s Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Division is responsible for administering and implementing the projects associated with the Consent Decree Program.
In 2010, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved a $1.35 billion, five-year water and sewer systems Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) program funded through an 11 percent increase in water and sewer rates over three years (2012, 2013, and 2014).
Of the $1.35 billion, the Consent Decree Program is currently estimated at $326 million, and those funds are being managed by the Department of Watershed Management’s CIP Division.
To finance the $1.35 billion CIP program, the County borrowed $1.2 billion by selling bonds that will be paid back over a 30-year period.
Citizens residing in impacted areas will be notified in advance of any consent decree related construction activity scheduled in their neighborhoods. We will also keep DeKalb residents informed and engaged on the program’s progress, as well as to confirm their knowledge of projects requiring access to County easements, which are often located on or behind private property.