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DeKalb County Consent Decree: A Historical Perspective

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Seal

DeKalb County’s sewer system is one of the largest and oldest in the Southeast United States. The system spans more than 2,600 miles of sewer lines and a large portion of the system is over 50 years old. As the County grows, the maintenance of the sanitary sewer system has become an enormous task. Over time the system experienced sewer spills, for which are prohibited by federal law. 

Below is a timeline that provides more perspective into how DeKalb County, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Georgia Protection Environmental Division (EPD) entered into the consent decree.

2006 – The EPA began an audit of the DeKalb County wastewater system

2007 – DeKalb County adopted a Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) ordinance to reduce the buildup in the County’s wastewater system, which is the leading cause of the sewer spills the system experiences

2009 – Due to the existence of sewer spills and because the County operates one of the larger systems in the Southeast United States, the EPA determined that the County needed federal oversight to eliminate the sewer spills

2010 – In December 2010, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a $1.345 billion water and sewer systems Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) program. This  five-year program, funded by an 11 percent increase in water and sewer rates each year for three years (2012, 2013, 2014), included funding to successfully complete the required Consent Decree projects

2011 – With funding in place, after 14 months of negotiations, DeKalb County finalized a consent decree with the EPA and EPD, to be completed by mid-2020​

2012 – Present – Ongoing assessment and rehabilitation programs and projects were created to address the mandated capacity, management, operation, and maintenance (CMOM) programs required by the consent decree

The County has already begun to realize the benefits of the CMOM programs associated with the consent decree.

Assessment activities associated with the consent decree on the sanitary sewer system are scheduled to be completed in mid-2020.