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JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot
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JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot

JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot
Photo Credit: STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
After days of heavy rain, a Chattahoochee River overflow area is filled with water along Riverview Road in Mableton on Dec. 30, 2018.  

JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot

A pump failure on New Year’s Eve at a Cobb County water treatment plant was still causing the overflow of sewage into one of the Chattahoochee River’s main tributaries Wednesday afternoon.

A mixture of rainwater, creek water and untreated wastewater continues to overflow into Nickajack Creek just south of Discovery Boulevard, said county spokesman Ross Cavitt. But, he said, the county’s drinking water is safe.

Lewis Hays, a compliance manager with the state’s watershed protection group, said pump systems have two areas: a dry side where electrical components are kept and a wet side from where the water is pulled.

He said the dry area of the pump at the South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility somehow got water inside it and this caused the pump to fail.

Cavitt said authorities don’t know how that happened and won’t know until they remove water from the facility.


READPlant manager allegedly ordered chemicals be washed into Chattahoochee


Cavitt said the land affected by the overflow is owned by the county and fairly remote, but workers are posting warning signs and closing nearby trails.

Officials with neither the county nor the state seem to know how much sewage has been spilled.

“With all the rain, it’ll be difficult to come up with an exact estimate, but they’ll make a guess based on what they saw of the overflow at the manholes,” said Hays, whose agency will be investigating the spill.

What they do know is that the situation wouldn’t be as bad if metro Atlanta wasn’t already saturated.

The National Weather Service deemed 2018 one of the wettest years metro Atlanta has ever had, with more than 65 inches of rain. In the soaking run-up to the end of year celebration, meteorologists predicted up to six inches of rain. 

Cavitt said back-up systems were in place, “but they were taken out in the incident.”

He said it is too early to determine how much this will cost the county.

For years, spills have caused large fines for governments throughout the metro area, the worst being in DeKalb County and the city of Atlanta.

Cobb County Government
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JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot

Cobb County Government

After more than 147 million gallons of wastewater spilled into the Chattahoochee in the five years prior to 2016, Atlanta got its initial approval to pay $378,000 in fines to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. 

DeKalb was fined $294,000 in 2017 for not only failing to uphold federal standards but also not reporting 48 sewage spills between 2012 and 2016. DeKalb county has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to improving its deteriorating sewage system.


When too little rain caused a problemCobb hopes Hurricane Florence can help rid 400K people of stinky water


Previous reporting by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicates Gwinnett and Cobb counties believe newer systems and routine maintenance have saved them from chronic spills.

Cobb is taking this one seriously.

“It will be all-hands-on-deck until we can address the situation and figure out what caused the problem,” Cobb commission chairman Mike Boyce said Wednesday in a news release.

Cobb has had to ask other municipalities, including one in South Florida, for extra pumps to clear the clogged pipes at the water treatment plant and the swollen manholes.


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JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot

Photo Credit: www.accessatlanta.com
Days after a sewage backup sent inches of contaminated water into two homes, owners and tenants are fighting the county to get help cleadning and repairing the damage.

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  • Billy Porter is taking on an iconic role in an upcoming live-action 'Cinderella' movie from Sony. The 'Queer Eye' star known for his fashions confirmed he will play the title character's fairy godmother in the film, People reported. >> Read more trending news  'I have a couple movies that I'm working on,' he said at Saturday's 2019 New Yorker Festival, ET reported. 'I'm gonna be playing the fairy godmother in the new Cinderella movie with Camila Cabello.' The news comes after Deadline reported Idina Menzel is in talks to play the evil stepmother, Evelyn.  According ton The Hollywood Reporter, Cabello will also provide music for the film. The movie is based on an idea from late-night talk show host James Corden and will reportedly be a modern retelling of the fairy tale.
  • A second man was arrested nearly two months after a shooting that left four students wounded outside the Atlanta University Center library, authorities said. The alleged shooter was out on bond in connection with a different shooting at the time of the incident, Atlanta police said. Ahmad Coleman, 25, was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Mississippi Thursday, Atlanta police said in a news release. He is charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony and reckless conduct, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said. 'This is clearly a dangerous and reckless individual who has no regard for life,' Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields said. 'Our investigators have done a tremendous job of doggedly pursuing this case until they were able to identify him. I'm hopeful that the Courts will give pause prior to releasing this violent felon back into the community again.' RELATED: Man sought after 4 students shot at Atlanta University Center block party The AUC shooting occurred Aug. 20, hours before the start of the new school year, AJC.com previously reported. The four students were attending a block party with about 200 others when shots rang out about 10:30 p.m. The four women — two Spelman College students and two Clark Atlanta University students — were taken to a hospital with injuries ranging from graze wounds to gunshot wounds, according to Atlanta police. 'Initial investigation seems to indicate an argument broke out between two parties prior to the shooting,' Campos said at the time. 'It appears the women were not the intended targets of the shooting.' The students were identified as Erin Ennis, 18, of Powder Springs; Maia Williams-McLaren, 18, of Boston; Elyse Spencer, 18, of Rochester, N.Y.; and Kia Thomas, 19, of Jonesboro. MORE: How fun flashed into fear: AUC shooting victim recalls night of terror Three of the women were taken by ambulance from the scene, while a fourth showed up at Grady Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound, police said. The gathering, hosted by a third-party event company, was supposed to be a celebration of the end of new student orientation and the start of classes the following day. It was an unsanctioned event, Atlanta University Center leaders said.Clark Atlanta University President George T. French Jr., said officials are working with Atlanta police to improve safety on and around the campuses. 'The safety and security of our AUC family is our top priority,' French said in a statement. 'We appreciate the Atlanta Police Department's hard work during this investigation and their increased presence in and around our campuses.' Authorities believe Coleman exchanged gunfire with another man, 21-year-old Isaiah Williams, 21. Williams, who was seen in surveillance footage previously released by investigators, was previously charged in connection with the shooting after turning himself in, authorities said. ALSO: AJC On Campus: Enrollment highs, AUC tightens security after shooting Williams is charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and criminal attempt to commit murder, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said. Police said Williams is not enrolled at any of the AUC institutions. ALSO: AJC On Campus: Enrollment highs, AUC tightens security after shooting At the time of the AUC shooting, Coleman was out on a signature bond from the Fulton County jail in connection with a different shooting that happened in March at an apartment complex on Fulton Street. He was arrested April 18 after he allegedly randomly fired multiple rounds from a semi-automatic rifle at an apartment complex over two consecutive days. He was charged with 11 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of first-degree damage to property and 11 counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He was released May 16 on a $120,000 bond, jail records show. RELATED: Atlanta police release video of second suspect in AUC shooting Coleman remains in custody in Mississippi. He is awaiting an extradition hearing to determine when he will be transported back to Atlanta, Campos said.
  • A 66-year-old man is accused of fatally shooting four people in a Chicago condominium as they sat down to dinner, and then going upstairs and killing a fifth person, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  Krysztof Marek, 66, was charged with five felony counts of first-degree murder stemming from the Saturday incident, WGN-TV reported.  Judge John Lyke, who presided over the bond court when Marek appeared Monday, denied bail and said, 'What I just heard is evil on steroids,' the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Police said they found two notes in Marek's apartment, written in Polish, according to the Chicago Tribune. 'Tomorrow!! No Mercy, Without any stupid hesitation!!!' one note read in part, prosecutors told the newspaper. Jolanta Topolska, 53, and Tsvetanka Kostadinova, believed to be in her early to mid-30s, were two of the victims, the Tribune reported. Relatives identified the third victim as David Hanik, 61, of Arlington Heights. Hanik's brothers, Ron and Rich, identified him to the Tribune. A 65-year-old woman and a man in his early to mid-40s were also killed but have not yet been publicly identified, the newspaper reported. Crosses set up in front of the building identified two of the victims as Danail Mladenov and Ivaylo Popov, WBBM reported. According to a tweet from Chicago police, the incident was the result of a dispute between Marek and his neighbors, the television station reported. Police said Marek, a retired construction worker and a former president of the condominium's association, opened fire with a handgun around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, WGN reported. 'When he walked into that neighbor's apartment, there were four people at the table eating dinner. For reasons we don't yet know, he opened fire on all four of those individuals, killing them all,' Chicago Police First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio told the television station. After that, police said Marek went upstairs to the third floor of the condominium and fatally shot another woman. According to a police report, officers encountered Marek outside the condominium with his arms raised, the Tribune reported. He then allegedly led police to a handgun in his living room, the newspaper reported.
  • A man who claimed to have abused up to 200 Malaysian and Cambodian children has been found dead in his jail cell. CNN reported Richard Huckle, 33, considered one of Britain's worst pedophiles, died at Full Sutton prison in Yorkshire, England, on Sunday, according to the UK's Ministry of Justice. The prison is a maximum security men's prison. >> Read more trending news  BBC News reported Huckle had been stabbed to death with a makeshift knife. Authorities confirmed Huckle died but said it would be 'inappropriate to comment further while a police investigation is ongoing,' Reuters reported. Huckle was sentenced to 22 life sentences for abusing children between 6 months and 12 years old between 2006 and 2014. BBC News reported he was arrested in 2014 at England's Gatwick Airport in 2014 following a tip from Australian authorities.
  • The family of a black woman who was shot and killed by a police officer while watching her 8-year-old nephew in her own home over the weekend has called for an independent investigation into the shooting. >> Read more trending news  Fort Worth police Lt. Brandon O'Neil told reporters Sunday that the officer involved, who was not identified, failed to announce himself as a police officer before he fired the single shot that struck and killed Atatiana Jefferson, 28. The shooting happened around 2:25 a.m. Saturday after a neighbor called a non-emergency line to report her home's front door had been left open. Update 2:25 p.m. EDT Oct. 14: Police said an officer who shot and killed a Texas woman Saturday morning in her own home resigned Monday before he could be fired from the Fort Worth Police Department. Police Chief Ed Kraus said Officer Aaron Dean joined the department in August 2017 and was commissioned as a police officer in April 2018. Police placed him on detached duty after the shooting and stripped him of his badge and firearm. Kraus said Dean resigned before he could cooperate with investigators. '(Atatiana's) father called this shooting senseless and I've certainly not been able to make sense of why she had to lose her life,' Kraus said. The chief said the case is subject to an internal and a criminal investigation. He added that authorities have presented the case to the FBI because of possible civil rights violations. Officers also presented the case to Texas Rangers. Kraus and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price apologized to the community for the shooting. 'We are all heart-broken today,' Price said. 'Atatiana was a beautiful, smart, amazing young woman by all accounts who was unjustly taken from her family.' Update 12:10 p.m. EDT Oct. 14: The family of Atatiana Jefferson held a news conference Monday, days after the 28-year-old was shot and killed in her home by a Fort Worth police officer. Relatives said an agency other than the Fort Worth Police Department should investigate Jefferson's death. One of her sisters, Ashley Carr, described her as 'a smart, ambitious, kind person with a nurturing spirit.' Carr said her sister had a bachelor's degree in biology from Xavier University and that her coworkers saw her as a person of integrity. Original report: A Fort Worth police officer did not announce that he was an officer before firing a single shot striking Atatiana Jefferson, who was inside the room with the boy, Fort Worth police Lt. Brandon O’Neil said at a news conference Sunday.  “What the officer observed and why he did not announce ‘police’ will be addressed as the investigation continues,” O’Neil said in a statement. “The members of the Fort Worth Police Department share your very real and valid concerns, as do the members of this city and people across the country. This tragic loss of life has major ramifications for all involved, especially the family of Ms. Atatiana Jefferson.” O’Neil declined to answer reporters’ questions and said Fort Worth police Chief Ed Kraus plans to conduct a more in-depth news conference Monday. The family also confirmed Jefferson was watching her nephew at the time. The two typically lived with an older woman who’s been in the hospital. Jefferson’s family is seeking answers. “It’s another one of those situations where the people that are supposed to protect us are actually not here to protect us,” said Jefferson’s sister, Amber Carr. “You know, you want to see justice, but justice don’t bring my sister back.” Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, said the officer never had time to perceive a threat.  “You didn’t hear the officer shout, ‘Gun, gun, gun,’” Merritt said. “He didn’t have time to perceive a threat. That’s murder.” Neighbor James Smith called a nonemergency line Saturday for a welfare check after noticing the lights were on and a door was open. Fort Worth police released bodycam footage soon after the incident Saturday.  Video shows officers with flashlights and guns drawn scanning the perimeter of the home. The front door appears to be open although the screen door is closed. As officers continue to walk through the property, one of them sees a person standing at a dark window and yells: “Put your hands up. Show me your hands,” before firing a single shot.  Police located a gun in a bedroom when they entered the house. Investigators did not indicate if Jefferson was holding the firearm. The officer, who has not been identified, has been placed on administrative leave. He has been with the department since April 2018. He is scheduled to be interviewed by investigators Monday.  The shooting comes less than two weeks after a white former Dallas police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of her black neighbor inside his own apartment. Amber Guyger, 31, said during her trial that mistook Botham Jean’s apartment for her own, which was one floor below Jean’s. Merritt also represents Jean’s family. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Rest easy, California students. And later, too. California became the first state in the nation to push back the starting time for high schools and middle schools, the Los Angeles Times reported. >> Read more trending news  Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Sunday that prohibits California's middle schools from starting classes before 8 a.m., while high schools can no longer start class before 8:30 a.m., according to The Sacramento Bee, According to the new legislation, school districts must adopt the law before July 1, 2022, or sooner if districts have collective bargaining units that will allow negotiations before the deadline, the newspaper reported. “The science shows that teenage students who start their day later increase their academic performance, attendance, and overall health,” Newsom said in a statement. “Importantly, the law allows three years for schools and school districts to plan and implement these changes.” The law will be phased in over the next few years. It does not apply to optional early classes -- known as 'zero periods' -- or to schools in California's rural districts, the Times reported. Doctors advocated the later start, asserting that teenagers were not getting enough sleep due to homework loads, after-school sports and jobs, KCRA reported. Doctors said later opening bell times would allow students to get more rest and function better during the school day, the television station reported. According to the Times, an analysis of the 2011-2012 school year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the average starting time for more than 3 million students attending high school and middle school was 8:07 a.m. Some students were required to be in class before 7:30, the report said. State Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, who authored the bill, said Newsom 'displayed a heartwarming and discerning understanding' and put the health of students 'ahead of institutional bureaucracy resistant to change.” “Generations of children will come to appreciate this historic day and our governor for taking bold action. Our children face a public health crisis,' Portantino said in a statement. 'Shifting to a later start time will improve academic performance and save lives because it helps our children be healthier.” Opposition to the law came from teachers unions and school districts that argued the time to begin classes should be determined at the local level and not mandated by the state. “We should not set the bell schedule from Sacramento,” Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, a former schoolteacher, told the Times. “Sacramento does not know best.” “Adolescents function better with more sleep, but we don’t believe that starting school later is the only path forward,” Seth Bramble, a legislative advocate for the California Teachers Association, wrote to lawmakers on Sept. 4. “A mandatory statewide school start time would be an onerous, overreaching mandate on an issue best left to local districts and their parents. The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in California.” In a statement, the association called Newsom's decision to sign the law 'unfortunate,' the Times reported.