News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Sewage overflow isn't isolated problem in city

The sewage pouring out of a storm sewer on Sherwood Drive Southeast after the weekend rain is everybody's problem.

The neighborhood is next door to the upscale Pointe Mallard Estates and a few blocks from Eastwood School, one of the city's flagship elementary schools.

Allen Stoner and Tony Bell live on Sherwood Drive so they and their neighbors catch the initial discharge when antiquated pipes fill and the sewage comes gushing out after a hard rain.

The Flint City area of Decatur is not as upscale as this Southeast Decatur neighborhood and residents there constantly complain that community status drives who gets city infrastructure. But really, it matters to all of us when the city can't fix chronic sewer problems wherever they exist. The Sherwood Drive problem eventually flows onto the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge and into the backwaters of the Tennessee River. But residue stays in the ditches and eventuality decomposes, or awaits the next rain to wash it away. Meanwhile, disease and filth from the overflow can make its way into every neighborhood.

Mr. Bell said he saw a girl stoop to wash her hands in a pool of water. He advised her against doing that.

Decatur Utilities is proud of having only 21 overflows last year but that is because it didn't rain much.

The answer to the problem, of course, is money. DU doesn't have enough capital funds to fix all the problems, even though it spent well over $1 million last year.

Getting federal grants to fix all of the sewer problems isn't the solution. Nor is asking City Hall for bond money.

But, at some point, DU needs to be thinking about raising rates and dedicating the revenue to getting rid of these disgusting overflows.

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