Water Works: Lake flooding, grease buildup cause sewer overflows

The heavy rain last week that overwhelmed a watershed lake and flooded 11 homes in north Columbus also caused a sewer overflow that drained into Cooper Creek, the Columbus Water Works revealed Thursday.

The utility said the sewer overflow was at 4828 Miller Road, on the stream north of Cooper Creek Park. Debris apparently blocked the drain on a watershed pond, which caused the water level to top sewer manholes, allowing storm water to flood them.

City crews still were pumping out the pond Thursday, lowering the water level so workers could clear the drain, said Deputy City Manager David Arrington.

“We’ve still got several more feet to pump out,” Arrington said. But the lake had dropped, and the smaller it got, the better it drained: “We pretty much doubled the output yesterday, just because we’re pumping from a smaller lake,” he said. “And it’s going down pretty much every minute.”

Columbus got about 18 inches of rain in 34 days, he said, and that combined with the clogged drain caused the problem. “It’s only draining about a third of the flow. Once we get the water down to where we can access that structure, we’ll find out what the problem is, and we’ll have to repair that as well,” he said.

He said the city closely is monitoring Cooper Creek to ensure it does not overflow as more rain comes. The National Weather Service has predicted a 50 percent chance of severe thunderstorms today.

The Water Works also said a sanitary sewer overflow was caused by a grease buildup clogging a line Tuesday on Fort Benning. The obstruction off 1st Calvary Division Road was cleared, but 23,133 gallons of sewage overflowed, some of it into Upatoi Creek.

The utility said it has instructed Fort Benning to clean dining facilities’ grease traps.