Some city officials and Buckhead residents are prescribing widely divergent fixes for flooding and sewage overflow problems in Atlanta Memorial Park.

City watershed management officials say they plan to spend about $400,000 over the next three to nine months to raise five manholes on a sewer line through the park. They also plan to speed up plans and soon do more than $30 million in other repairs, including repairing an lining a 90-inch pipe that was installed in 1910 and now runs beneath the park.

“We have accelerated the work on the Peachtree [Creek] watershed,” Watershed Management Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina told members of the City Council’s utilities committee meeting at City Hall on March 9, the day after Mayor Kasim Reed, other city officials and residents of the area toured the Buckhead park to discuss the flooding and sewer leaks.

Raising the manholes by about 2 feet should keep water from flowing into the sewer line and causing future sewage leaks like those reported during heavy rains in December, Macrina said. City watershed employees also said they area asking parks officials to consider moving a playground in the park out of the flood plain.

Flooding and sewage contamination has been an ongoing problem at Atlanta Memorial Park for decades.
Flooding and sewage contamination has been an ongoing problem at Atlanta Memorial Park for decades.

But residents and at least one council member seemed to think the city’s plans didn’t go far enough.

Resident Justin Wiedeman, an engineer who studied the city’s system, told committee members that ending sewage flooding in the Peachtree Creek basin could require a large relief tunnel or finding ways of taking more stormwater out of the system. “Unfortunately,” he said, “this is something that would cost a lot of money to fix.

City Councilwoman Mary Norwood questioned why the city shouldn’t install a new underground storage system, similar to the one built in the Nancy Creek watershed, that could hold overflows during heavy rains.

“Why wouldn’t we do the relief tunnel?” she asked. “With Nancy Creek, we decided to go deep and do a relief tunnel. … Why wouldn’t we put a similar system for Peachtree [Creek]? Why wouldn’t we do a long-term fix for Peachtree Creek.”

But Macrina said the two areas weren’t comparable. “It is a very different situation than Nancy Creek,” she said. “You can’t use the same solution. … We don’t want to spend between $500 million and $2 billion on a storage system where it would not be effective.”

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

One reply on “City officials, residents have differing ideas about how to fix flooding at Atlanta Memorial Park”

  1. The Nancy Creek Tunnel cost approximately $175 million for construction. As I recall (I served on the Nancy Creek Tunnel Technical Advisory Committee appointed by City Council) it was 40,000+ linear feet with a diameter of 18 feet. Even if you index for inflation, it appears that DWM has significantly inflated the cost estimate beyond something that is even close to reasonable.

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