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Raw sewage seeps into DeKalb County homes and yards

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Raw sewage seeps into DeKalb County homes and yards

An unsealed pipe at a DeKalb County home that experiences sewage overflows. Photo provided by Atlanta News First

By Adam Murphy, Atlanta News First

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (Atlanta News First) — Raw sewage is not something Kristi Sasser thought she’d have to deal with when she moved into the Scottdale Mills Village community in DeKalb County four years ago.

“It’s literally a cesspool, when there’s an overflow, and it’s just sitting there,” Sasser said.

Sewage often backs up in homes on Patterson Avenue and even seeps into people’s yards.

“If I’m sitting in my yard some days, I can smell it,” Homeowner Susan Sleeper said.

It turns out the sewer lines underground are more than a century old and failing.

Homeowners said they have complained to the county, but the county has told them the community is on a privately owned and maintained sewer system and therefore the county is not responsible for maintenance.

“I’m not going to pay for a sewage system, that sewage maintenance that I’m on maintaining myself,” Sasser said.

And while the sewer system itself is privately owned in the Scottdale Mills Village community; residents still have to pay DeKalb County for treatment of the sewage because their sewer lines do connect to the public system well away from their property.

It’s one reason, homeowner Lisbeth Higgins forked over $10,000 to connect with the county line and be done with the hassle.

“I had two or three months where I had just raw sewage running down my yard. And as we’re trying to get in touch with the county trying to get somebody to take accountability for it. It was pretty gross. And I’m a nurse. I’m not easily grossed out but it was it was pretty bad,” Higgins said.

DeKalb County says the community is on an “aging” and privately-owned system. At least 51% of the community’s homeowners would have to agree to pay $750 for 10 years if the county took the system over. The project would $5.5 million in total and “individual property owners would be responsible for the installation and maintenance of the private sewer mains running from their homes to the street.”

This story was provided by Atlanta News First.