Dear CEO Ellis and DeKalb County BOC:

This letter is to urge you to take immediate action needed to stop pollution of the creeks and river in DeKalb County.  The county’s ongoing sewage spills are a threat to the public’s health and health of the environment.   As a supporter of the South River Watershed Alliance and its mission to protect and restore South River, I urge you to take action now.

The county’s Department of Watershed Management admits that 70 percent of sewage pollution comes from fats, oils, and grease (FOG) that clog sewer pipes causing them to break.   Yet, the consent decree does not contain a plan that the county must follow to reduce or eliminate pollution caused by these substances.  This agreement actually delays action on the county’s fats, oils, and grease problem for 15 months, a year and a half, after the consent decree is signed.  During this 15 month period the county will basically continue to study the problem while the pollution of our creeks and South River continue.  We do not need to study the problem, we need to fix it and we need to being now.

In 2007, four year ago, the county responded to this crisis by passing a fats, oils, and grease ordinance.  Although, the ordinance targets restaurants and organizations and institutions that prepare food such as schools, churches, other eating establishments, its implementation has not significantly curbed FOG pollution.  Since passage of the ordinance, the county has also implemented a limited public education program.  Rather than getting better, the county’s FOG problem has gotten much worse.

To get his crisis under control the county must expand its efforts on several fronts.  First, the county must take decisive action in support of source control.  Apartment complexes have been identified as a major source of FOG pollution but no specific plan has been developed to attack and curb pollution from this source.  Greater effort and resources must also be committed to changing the behavior of citizens concerning the disposal of fats, oils, and grease.  Changing peoples’ behavior will require time combined with better and more targeted public education. 

Thus far in 2011, more than 1.6 million gallons of sewage have spilled in the county’s creeks and river.  The only real solution to this crisis is to keep FOG out of the sewer system in the first place. This will only happen through aggressive public education, stronger ordinance enforcement, and targeted source control.

There is no need to waste 15 months reviewing the county’s FOG ordinance.  The county is not only aware of the problem but is equally aware of the steps it should take to address the problem.  We can’t wait, our communities can’t wait, and our environment can’t wait.  The county must act now to stop this pollution.

Please take action now!