Combined Sewer Overflow Consent Decree Impact - January 2014
Combined Sewer Overflow Consent Decree Impact
Released January 2014
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We undertook this audit to assess the Department of Watershed Management’s efforts to comply with the 1998 combined sewer overflow consent decree, aimed at eliminating water quality violations caused by combined sewer overflows.
- Completion of the consent decree projects appears to have significantly improved water quality.
- Since the completion of combined sewer overflow projects in late 2008, average annual water quality violations have decreased by 65% through July 2013.
- The severity of violations has also decreased. Violations for exceeding fecal coliform bacteria standards in the water discharged to the Chattahoochee and South Rivers decreased from 74% to 43% of the total violations.
- The system has experienced only two overflows since the projects were completed, both related to flooding in September 2009, which is much better than predicted.
- The department has accumulated $25-$36 million in deferred maintenance on the combined sewer facilities, which caused some water quality violations.
- Street level debris also poses risk as it can clog the sewer systems.Increasing the frequency of street sweeping could be a cost-effective way to reduce debris entering the combined sewer system.