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Atlanta’s sewer system dates back to the 19th Century, and incorporates both combined and separated sanitary sewer systems. Much of the original infrastructure remains.

In the City’s center, in an area roughly 19 square miles, a combined sewer system conveys sewage and stormwater flows in a single pipe. The boundaries of the combined sewer area were the city limits around 1910. The combined system represents about 15% of the total wastewater system area. Beyond the 19-square-mile combined sewer area, Atlanta’s sewers are separated. Sanitary wastewater flows in its own pipe to the treatment facility, and stormwater flows in a separate pipe to a receiving stream.

Atlanta’s sewer systems are aged and in disrepair. Excessive overflows from the combined sewer system, coupled with sanitary sewer overflows and leaks in the separated area, have negatively impacted area water quality and resulted in a lawsuit against the City. The lawsuit resulted in two federal Consent Decrees that direct the City to make all improvements to its wastewater system necessary to comply with state and federal water quality requirements. To meet the requirements, the City must reduce combined sewer overflows to permitted levels and eliminate sanitary sewer overflows. Also included in the Consent Decrees was a mandate to provide improved wastewater conveyance and treatment at Atlanta’s water reclamation centers (WRCs).

The $3 billion wastewater component of Clean Water Atlanta builds upon the 1993 CIP and was developed in response to the two Consent Decrees.


Copyright 2003 City of Atlanta, Depart of Watershed Management. All rights reserved
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