2018 Year in Review
The New Year provides an opportunity to review accomplishments and emerging challenges of interest to DeKalb County stakeholders, so before we move too far into 2019 let’s look back over the year in review. Over the next few weeks, I’ll give you a rundown on Parks, Public Safety, Community and Human Development, Administration and Policy Development, and Zoning, but first, lets turn our attention to public works.
Many people consider this essential responsibility to be a top priority, and DeKalb voters have voted to increase their tax burden to meet th
ese demands. Our backlog in deferred maintenance of water, wastewater, storm water, transportation and building infrastructure has been a persistent challenge that DeKalb has faced, as have other older jurisdictions.
The Watershed Management Department operates the County’s water and sewer infrastructure, except in the City of Atlanta. Until a decade ago, attractive lower rates carried the hidden burden of deferred maintenance. Since 2011, DeKalb has operated under a consent decree to eliminate sewer collection system overflows, which constitutes the largest part of a $1.3 billion Capital improvements Program now under implementation. The CIP also includes water main replacement and the replacement of the Snapfinger Water Reclamation Plant to improve the quality of wastewater treatment.
Progress on sewer upgrades is being made in Priority Basins, including many in District 2, but until repairs are made capacity in each sewer’s service area may be limited. An existing effort to eliminate grease blockages in the sewers has been expanded by the BOC to encompass multi-family housing, which when combined with sewer cleaning helps eliminate this source of blockages. Most important, sewer overflows have been declining, but in the recent heavy rains have spiked. Funding for these improvements has drawn down previous bond proceeds, and a new bond issue is in the offing. I am focused on avoiding a rate increase to fund continued construction.
Drinking Water main replacement projects have included the long awaited completion of Fairoaks Rd. and Sheridan Road. Projects are under way in LaVista Park and on Scott Boulevard. These projects are an inconvenience, but insure reliability and good water pressure for the future.
Another headache some customers have encountered involves unreliable (incredible!) billing. Among the drivers of these problems was poor management of meter procurement and installation, as well as unacceptable customer service. In 2018, the Commission approved settlement of a law suit against meter manufacturers that will expedite meter replacement. We also approved new billing software to increase accountability and accuracy. Even with these improvements, complaints are still too high, and our Water Billing Advisory Committee has pressed the Administration to fix the system and gain relief for customers. Thanks to Star Borner who has served as a champion for change. As always, call our office if you can’t get satisfaction from the Department.
All the rain has highlighted deficiencies in our storm water management infrastructure. I initiated a series of Basin Studies that in District 2, has yielded a recommended solution for the Briarlake Road Basin, where flooding has been a persistent problem near Lakeside HS. Funding has been committed for a solution there, and a broader effort for regional storm water management is in development.
Sidewalk and intersection projects funded previously have been implemented, including missing links on LaVista Road. Other sections of LaVista and Briarcliff are to be accomplished in partnership with GDOT in the next two years. Better access to the Burnt Fork Creek Path trailhead on North Druid Hills Road at Spring Creek has been funded as a condition of zoning, and crossing improvements and sidewalks at the 6-Points Suburban Plaza/Medlock Intersection are under design. Potholes continue to be a priority, along with the timely repair of utility excavation, to eliminate the dreaded metal plates dotting our roads. Let us know if you see areas needing attention. SPLOST will add resources to our transportation system, and is discussed separately.