In a news release entitled “Significant Progress at South Cobb Water Facility“, the county announced that five pumps are now in operation at the South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility. The pumps, brought in from states across the eastern , are being used to pump water from an access tunnel at the facility. The hope is that the tunnel can then be used to drain water from the affected pump station.
“The System’s Director says these temporary pumps will likely have to be replaced by another system that will allow them to eventually get access to the failure point in the South Cobb Tunnel,” the news release stated.
A previous news release from the county summarized the failure as follows: “A major pump failure at the South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility has resulted in the release of a combination of rainwater, creek water, and untreated wastewater into Nickajack Creek near the Chattahoochee River. Because of the recent heavy rainfall and flooding conditions, the system was already at near full-capacity when the failure occurred,”
How did the crisis begin?
The flooding began on New Year’s Eve during heavy rain, when the system was already at nearly full capacity. For a reason still unknown there was a failure that caused the inner cylinder of an above-ground tank to stop draining, which release water into an outer cylinder. At that point the untreated waste water and storm water, with no place else to go, began flowing into Nickajack Creek, and from there into the Chattahoochee River.
What progress has been made?
Pumps began arriving January 6 to drain the flooding. On January 9 the county announced that enough water had been drained from the system to halt the flow of water into Nickajack Creek. According to a video update from Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Boyce, the crews accomplished this by making use of a construction access tunnel that had been left in place.
During the installation of pumps, Fulton County Airport (also known as Charlie Brown Field), had to be shut down several times due to the height of the cranes used to drop the pumps into place.