A home-owner along Colewood Creek detected a strong odor of sewage wafting from her backyard. While manholes often vent to prevent the buildup of gas in the pipes, permeating the immediate area with the smell of sewage, a stronger stench that lingers around a wider area can indicate a more serious problem. The homeowner reached out to the Watershed Alliance of Sandy Springs, who arranged for a water sample to be tested for e.coli at Chattahoochee Riverkeepers’ lab, and to Fulton County, who responded swiftly to investigate the manholes nearby as possible sources. By Wednesday morning, WASS and Chattahoochee Riverkeepers had the bacterial data to guide a further investigation to locate the source of the sewage.
At a point along Colewood Creek east of Bridgewood Valley, the e.coli level was greater than 120,980 bacteria per 100 milliliters (ml) of water. A point of reference for safe levels of bacteria in freshwater is the EPA standard of 126 colony forming units per 100 ml of water. WASS and Chattahoochee Riverkeepers can assist in detecting, gathering data on, and tracking sewage spills, as well as facilitating reporting to the City. Indicators of a sewage spill may include: opaque, murky grey to green water; lingering soap bubbles on the water’s surface; visible sludge; sewage material (e.g. fecal matter, tissue particles, wipes); and a strong stench of sewage.
If you suspect there’s a sewage spill somewhere, reach out to the Watershed Alliance of Sandy Springs and submit a report using the Sandy Springs City Works application (available for iOS and Android).