Drain lines' flow diverted from river before race

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While city engineers continue to search for sources of fecal coliform bacteria flowing into the Savannah River via storm drains near Olde Town, they took steps over the weekend to flush the drain lines and divert their flow away from the river.

Augusta Utilities let two fire hydrants run into storm drains through the weekend, closing the drains' gate into the river to divert the flow back to Augusta Canal's third level, Director Tom Wiedmeier said.

The treatment comes in light of a recent Augusta Chronicle analysis of samples taken from 50 sites in Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties that found high levels of fecal coliform, a bacteria found in animal or human waste, in the Olde Town storm drain and elsewhere.

It also anticipates the Sept. 26 Iron Man Triathlon, when more than 3,000 athletes will swim a 1.2-mile course that begins at Fifth Street, just upstream from Olde Town.

"The hydrants were running to flush a line at Second Street that has a gate on it that's closed in the event of a flood," Wiedmeier said.

"The line also goes all the way back down across Second Street and eventually winds up in the third level of the canal."

Sending the water to the canal's third level, which flows to Beaver Dam Creek, lessens the chance of humans coming into contact with the bacteria, he said.

"The only reason we're doing it during these particular times is that there's far less chance of public contact there," Wiedmeier said.

In the 1980s, the city tried to separate its sanitary sewer lines from its storm sewer drains, which traditionally had flowed sewage and stormwater runoff together into the river, but officials acknowledge that the process was incomplete.

By pumping smoke through the lines, the department traced one source of the coliform to an East Telfair Street apartment complex whose sewer line was seeping into a storm drain line.

But the elevated levels remain, and the department thinks they may be coming from one or more of the older houses located within a block of Second Street, Wiedmeier said.

"We think it has to be individual houses tied onto the storm sewer," he said.

Read More

See coverage of the contamination problem in our topic page.

Comments (13) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/13/10 - 04:15 pm
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Thank you....This is what I

Thank you....This is what I and others suggested until the problem is fixed.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/13/10 - 04:30 pm
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This is a shameful waste of

This is a shameful waste of treated drinking water, not to mention all the money wasted by running the pumps that supply pressure to the drinking water distribution system. I hope they stop this nonsense after the mayor takes his swim in the river. If they do it indefinitely, I will complain to the environmental agencies.

trimmy
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trimmy 09/13/10 - 04:39 pm
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I would like to know if the
Unpublished

I would like to know if the houses are tied onto the storm sewer. And why they are not hooked to the sewer system for waste. I would like to know who owns the houses if this is true. We need watchdogs for everything.

corgimom
28048
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corgimom 09/13/10 - 06:40 pm
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"In the 1980s, the city tried

"In the 1980s, the city tried to separate its sanitary sewer lines from its storm sewer drains, which traditionally had flowed sewage and stormwater runoff together into the river, but acknowledge the process was incomplete."

As I was saying the other day...the sewer system in the City of Augusta is shot, and it's been known since the 1980's.

The City of Augusta, who doesn't have the funds to fix it-because they were too busy wasting time and money trying to get people to shop downtown- expected Federal grants to fix it.

The money has dried up. There are big assessments coming- there won't be any choice- and that's why you couldn't GIVE me a property in Olde Towne.

disssman
6
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disssman 09/13/10 - 08:35 pm
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Just answer the question "Is

Just answer the question "Is it safe to swim in the river?". Can the health department assure 100 percent of the participants in the ironman will be safe swimming in the water? Come on at least one official show step forward and take a swim if it is OK. But, I don't think they will.

trimmy
29
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trimmy 09/13/10 - 08:38 pm
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Did anyone say what else was
Unpublished

Did anyone say what else was in the river other than poo-poo. There's probably plenty of chemical crud in there. Has anyone ever noticed the stuff flowing from pipes leading to the river from factories? Those chemicals in the river are like the blue stuff that we put in toilets. It will surely take care of a little feces.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/13/10 - 10:29 pm
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Trimmy, LOL.

Trimmy, LOL.

catfish20
250
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catfish20 09/14/10 - 05:25 am
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The hydrilla will present a

The hydrilla will present a problem for the swimmers.

fftaz71
108
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fftaz71 09/14/10 - 06:05 am
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Trimmy my parents up north

Trimmy my parents up north just found out that when they were hooked into the sewer system back in the 70s, who ever did it, hooked them up to the wrong sewer and their toilet has been going directly to Lake Ontario. The water authority folks told them that its a pretty common problem. Since it was hooked up wrong in the street, its the city's responsibility to fix it. Most likely the "offending" homeowners in Augusta are not even aware of the existence of an issue...and more than likely, its going to fall on the the city to fix- particularly if its at the street level vs the house to the lateral.

Rolling Eyes
245
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Rolling Eyes 09/14/10 - 08:56 am
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They'd better put some water

They'd better put some water back into the river before the race. I've never seen the water levels so low before. If you drive over the I-20 bridge and look at it, you can see dry rocks spanning the entire width of the river. One could walk across the river and never get their shoes wet!

Sweet son
9713
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Sweet son 09/14/10 - 03:12 pm
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The problem is a lot farther

The problem is a lot farther upstream than Old Towne. Unless it has been fixed, a storm drain in the 1600 block of Newberry St. behind the old Fat Man's Forest has always smelled of raw swerage.

gnumbgnuts
0
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gnumbgnuts 09/14/10 - 03:25 pm
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Is Dekey Weakey afwaid of a

Is Dekey Weakey afwaid of a wittle poopey woopey?

corgimom
28048
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corgimom 09/14/10 - 08:31 pm
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Who expects a river- a

Who expects a river- a river?- to be perfectly sanitary?

Do they think wild animals' waste, that washes into the river, doesn't contain bacteria and parasites?

What a WASTE of time and money.

corgimom
28048
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corgimom 09/14/10 - 08:33 pm
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"Since it was hooked up wrong

"Since it was hooked up wrong in the street, its the city's responsibility to fix it."

Tell the residents of Graniteville that story. This isn't New York, it's Augusta.

Special sewer assessment districts are inevitable.

KSL
121917
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KSL 09/14/10 - 08:42 pm
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Corgi, did you know that the

Corgi, did you know that the water in the Okefenokee Swamp is safe to drink, untreated, complete with alligator, etc waste in it? At least that was what we were told several years ago while on a tour.

Waters have an odd way of cleaning themselves up if they are not unnaturally polluted.

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