Environmental Impact Of DeKalb County Water Main Break Could Be Lasting

A water main broke on Buford Highway Wednesday.
A water main broke on Buford Highway Wednesday.
Credit Al Such / WABE

Water pressure in DeKalb County was fully restored by Thursday afternoon. Crews even started to replace the damaged pipe from Wednesday morning’s 48-inch water main break. The break was on Buford Highway in Doraville.

As progress is made on restoring infrastructure, the environmental impact could be long lasting.

Jason Ulseth, with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, assessed the damage to nearby creeks and streams Thursday.

“What we’re seeing is very cloudy, turbid water in the creeks,” he said.  “Lots of sediment has deposited along the stream bottom which is very damaging to the aquatic ecosystems and can also exacerbate flooding impacts.”

He said the sediment impacts the amount of storm runoff the bodies of water can absorb.

When the main broke, the water gushing out of the pipe eroded the surrounding land. Sediment from the erosion flowed into bodies of water and Ulseth says some particles were found up to 20 miles away.

“We’re not sure when things are going to return back to normal as far as the streams are concerned,” Ulseth said “This is something you really don’t see that often. And I’ve never seen this type of sediment impact from an isolated incident like this.”

He said his organization would work with the county to mitigate the environmental effects.