Augusta utilities hit with sewer and overflow problems

Sewer overflow on Reynolds Street.
Sewer overflow on Reynolds Street.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – After the heavy rains last Friday, Augusta Utilities got hit with two sewage backups at the same time. One on Reynolds Street and the other at the waste water treatment plant near Bush Field.

“That was a tremendous rain that happened. It was 4 inches in maybe 6 hours. So they get hit with huge increase in flow,” says Tom Wiedmeier, Director of Augusta Utilities.

Wiedmeier says normally, the plant can handle an influx of wastewater but because of a problem with one of the pumps they couldn’t, which resulted in an overflow in the system.

“That was such an unprecedented amount of rain in such a short period of time. There’s not many systems that could have contained that intense of rainfall,” says Wiedmeier.

The overflow directly affected Butler Creek, which runs through Phinizy Swamp. Officials there say any overflow flushes out quickly along with any concentrated amount of bacteria.

“So if there is a sewer break in a rain event, it’s usually highly diluted but it would come straight through,” says Ruth Mead, with Phinizy Center for Water Sciences.

Officials say one of many factors, in the sewer back up on Reynolds Street, is the city’s old infrastructure.

“That is the low point in downtown right at that very spot. We use to have chronic problems. We’ve done some improvements so in the last 6 years I haven’t seen an overflow at that location.”

Wiedmeier says he believes both incidents won’t impact residents or the thousands visiting for the Masters Tournament.

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