Community News DSC_0569

Published on February 18th, 2016 |

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Jason Holland lives on the edge with Memorial Park sewage

Jason Holland, who has family in Flint, Michigan, has been living at the epicenter of dirty water in south Buckhead for the past four years. His problem is not  dirty drinking water, but sewage spewing from manholes and washing up to his property from the flooding of Peachtree Creek.

Jason Holland stands on the back desk of his home and points toward his property line and Peachtree Creek in the distance beyond the floodplain of Memorial Park.

Jason Holland stands on the back desk of his home and points toward his property line and Peachtree Creek in the distance beyond the floodplain.

Hearing the news of what his family members are going through in Flint galvanized Holland to try to do something about his own situation.

Holland grew up in Atlanta. Four years ago, he and his wife and 4 1/2-year-old son moved into what they considered their dream home in south Buckhead, next to Atlanta Memorial Park. It is a stone’s throw, although a long one across the floodplain, from Peachtree Creek.

But all is not dreamy. Holland has had to put up with a two-fold problem with sewage—right up to both his side and back yards. There is the problem with sewage seeping out of two manholes next to his property in the floodplain and then the sewage that washes up to his property in the waters of Peachtree Creek when it rains hard.

Holland told BuckheadView the sewage seeping from the manholes is due to obstructions in the sewer line, according to the city’s Department of Watershed Management. “They say it is generally caused by such things as grease,” Holland said.

He said the first year they had one incident, the second year three or four and the third year six times when it was spewing out of the manholes. “This past year it has been 10 times since September.”

Holland explained that there are two manholes on park land next to his home and another manhole in the back yard of his neighbor. A pipe that connects them runs under his back yard and then up to Howell Mill Road where it connects to the 95-inch main sewer line to R.M. Clayton Plant.

Photo shows the raised manhole with whitish concrete base and the ground-level black manhole cover in front of it. Sewer pipes lead from the raised manhole toward the creek and toward Holland's back yard.

Photo shows the raised manhole with whitish concrete base and the ground-level black manhole cover in front of it. Sewer pipes lead from the raised manhole toward the creek and toward Holland’s back yard.

The Peachtree Creek flooding isn’t constant, but it seems to have happened more frequently during the past few years and especially during the end of 2015 with the many days of rainfall. That all came to a head on Christmas Eve, when the creek really overflowed its banks.

Holland said there have been four big rain events recently where the manholes overflowed and one flooding event where the creek water came right up to the edge of his property, and it had raw sewage in it. During the Christmas Eve flooding, he said the raised manhole in the park next to his home was 2- to 4-feet under water.

When the manholes are under water, you can’t see how much sewage is flowing out of them, but he is sure it was a lot.

Holland said he knew he was moving into a floodplain area when he bought the house. “I’m okay with the occasional flooding of the creek, but not okay with the poop in the water,” he stated.

“The public is not going to get too upset about the flooding creek,” said Holland. “What they will care about is sick kids” from the sewage contamination.

“My 4 1/2-year-old boy is not allowed to play in the park,” he added, even though they bought the home there because of the park. In fact, he said his son is not allowed even to play in their back

this photo shows Holland's back yard where his son is not allowed to even play after creek flooding incidents because of the sewage contamination. At right, Watershed Management workers clean out the sewer in the back yard of his neighbor.

Holland’s back yard, where his son is not allowed to play after creek flooding incidents because of the sewage contamination. At right, Watershed Management workers clean out the sewer in the back yard of his neighbor.

yard after one of the floods with sewage in the water.

“Recently fed up with the inaction of DWM, I got a lot more active,” Holland told BuckheadView. He said he began speaking with Catherine Spillman, executive director of the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy, as well as City Council members Mary Norwood and Yolanda Adrean.

“I’ve also been meeting with Justin Wiedeman who has filled me in on a lot of the technical details of exactly what has been going on. I’m VERY concerned,” Holland said.

“I am hoping that if we put enough pressure on the administration then we might actually get something done about this problem,” he told BuckheadView. “It seems like it’s an open sewer out there when it floods.”

“But letting this go on is ridiculous,” he said. Calling Memorial Park a wonderful urban park, Holland told BuckheadView, “If you don’t improve it, you are going to lose it.”

He said that is going to take a combination of things: “Making people accountable for their stormwater runoff. Let’s build in capacity, with tunnels, retention ponds and such. It has to be multi-faceted.”

One thing for sure, Holland has no intention of moving away from his family’s dream house. He just wants this sewage nightmare to go away.

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