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City, Neighbors Have Long Discussion Over Sewer Tank

City says overflow system best suited at confluence near Cheshire Bridge

The city of Atlanta, under the gun to meet a federal court-ordered consent decree deadline to substantially improve its wastewater management infrastructure, is trying a third time to build a massive storage tank somewhere near the confluence of the south and north forks of Peachtree Creek, but once again running into neighborhood concerns.

Neighbors turned out last week for a meeting at Rock Springs Presbyterian Church to find out more about the project and voice their concerns, which included security, odor, effect to property values, unsightliness, sewer gas odors and unforeseen problems.

They complained the community is "taking one for the team" by being unduly impacted with massive projects, including the Ga. 400 interchange, Clifton Corridor rail construction, Georgia Power Co.  transmission lines -- and now this water-management project.

"What is our neighborhood doing to get in exchange for this," some asked.

The project is about 60 percent through the design stage and would include building one 10-million gallon, raised overflow tank off Cheshire Bridge Road at 2061 Liddell Drive. The tank would be about 55 feet tall and 185 feet wide, with a pumping station and electrical station on the flood plain at 2001 Cheshire Bridge Rd., near the north end of Lenox Road.

Plans call for tunneling diluted sewage overflow under Cheshire Bridge Road to the Liddell Road tank when the main system is overcapacity, which is usually about once a month, said EDT Waterworks principal engineer Donald Fry, who explained the project in a slideshow presentation.

By email, Lindbergh-Lavista Corridor Coalition board member Courtney Harkness said, "The City of Atlanta has a decision to make: Does it want to redevelop the Cheshire Bridge corridor or does it want to make the area an industrial dumping ground? If the City goes forward with this sewer project off of Cheshire Bridge Road, we will know what path they have chosen."

Fry said the city needs to do something to protect the creeks and environment and that the city believes this is the best and most cost-effective way to do it.

The project is estimated to cost about $35 million.

"We selected the center of the only commercial and industrial area in the vicinity," Fry said.

The project, sited on city-owned land, will effectively double the capacity of the current flow. He said the project is not foreseen to ever have more tanks, though he said the site is large enough for  a second one.

The city initially planned to build the overflow tanks off Zonolite Road, then relocated the project off Kay Lane. Both locations were taken off the table after residents and business owners fought against building the project.

According to Sharon Matthews, senior watershed director for the city of Atlanta, to comply with the consent decree, the city must have construction completed in June 2014 and that construction would begin on this facility around the first of the year.

Harkness said the group is concerned the city's 1999 Cheshire Bridge redevelopment plan would be jeopardized.

"This is the future Cheshire Bridge neighborhood, a multi-ethnic community that integrates open-air shopping, dining and entertainment with new residential development," Harkness said. "A 55 ft. x 185 ft. sewer tank that will only be used, by the City's estimation, for four to six hours each month to handle sewer overflow, at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $40 million, does not jibe with this redevelopment plan at all."

Area residents, who worked to get the City to develop this plan in 1999 and then again to get the City to rezone Cheshire Bridge Road to Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zoning in 2005, feel abandoned by the City and its leadership with the proposal of this sewer tank project, she said.

Matthews said the tank can be built with architectural features and landscaping so that it will not diminish the looks of the community.

Harkness said the community feels the "burden of achieving clean water is being 'dumped' on in  this area of town, even though the issue affects a much larger area. They feel that other neighborhoods and jurisdictions (Buckhead, DeKalb County) that are affected by Peachtree Creek should also have to come to the table to solve this issue."

"The only positive part of this project is that it (supposedly) will keep sewer run off out of Peachtree Creek," Harkness said. "However, area residents feel that the burden of achieving clean water is being 'dumped' on this area of town, even though the issue affects a much larger area."

An initial community meeting was cancelled last month "due to issues that have to be addressed with internal stakeholders."

What's your take on the project? Tell us in the comments!

MLP Neighbor July 19, 2012 at 12:29 PM
The Liddell location is preferable because it is at the confluence of two sewer trunks(north and south forks of peachtree creek), and will require only one facility instead of two.
Mike Morgan July 21, 2012 at 06:35 PM
This badly needed project is a clean water initiative to keep raw sewerage out of the creek and out of our neighborhood streets every time it rains. It is very similar to the Clear Creek tank project that is underneath the dog park in Piedmont Park, except that this one will be in tanks above ground rather than in buried tanks. The Piedmont Park project has been a great benefit to the surrounding area - fewer street overflows in VA-HI and Clear Creek now actually runs clear. And this project will be out of sight in a low area behind a commercial district. It will fix an existing problem in this area. And we need to remember that our (very) nearby Dekalb neighbors who are berated in the article are also in the City of Atlanta and that this is a City of Atlanta project, not a Fulton County project, so it really is us and not someone "outside". These facilities have very good odor control - it will smell better in the area than it does now with all the overflows. This project seems to me like a no-brainer. We should not let irrational nimby-ism derail this needed project.
MLP Neighbor July 22, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Slight correction: The clear creek cso plant in Piedmont park, dumps into a tunnel. The channel under the dog park and meadow is for chlorination. In Dekalb county, nearly ALL of the sewage from north of the E-W rail line flows through the peachtree creek trunks to the RM Clayton treatment plant. Dekalb pays for about half of the plants operating cost, and will be paying for part of this storage project. Nothing against Dekalb except that they need to fix their leaky sewer system.
MLP Neighbor July 23, 2012 at 12:14 AM
They are not saying one 4-6 hour overflow event per month, it could be twelve 30 minute overflows.
Meinert August 06, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Let this project go ahead, I say. Cheshire Bridge is a preferable site to Zonolite--especially since there's been significant money spent to clean up the end of the cul-de-sac into a park of sorts. We need this. To those who asked (as ref'd in the article) "What is our neighborhood doing to get in exchange for this," I would state the obvious: you get a cleaner, healthier community. That should be enough.

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