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Millions of gallons of wastewater ‘spilled’ into Lake Allatoona raises public concerns

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As Cobb County grapples with public and media concerns, ongoing wastewater spills into Lake Allatoona remain a significant challenge. A recent county notification about another spill of over seven million gallons of untreated wastewater just before the 4th of July holidays has heightened community concerns and fears. In response, the County issued a new statement claiming the water is safe and that the spills pose no harm to drinking water or recreational activities. However, many residents are skeptical and suggest that the County is not being fully transparent.

The latest spill on July 2, which occurred just before the busy holiday weekend, marks the fourth million-gallon-plus spill in less than 30 days, with previous discharges reported on June 27, June 30, and July 1. Critics accuse Cobb County of downplaying the severity of the situation and argue that the County’s reclassification of the incidents as non-spills is misleading. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) defines a spill as any discharge not meeting EPD standards. Some community members draw parallels to Flint, Michigan, where the public was misled about water safety for years. They stress that until the County provides full transparency and accountability, concerns will persist.

Cobb County claims that its Northwest Water Reclamation Facility is permitted to treat 12 million gallons of wastewater daily, which is then released into Lake Allatoona. Despite regular testing, recent results exceeded safety specifications, prompting notifications to the EPD. The public remains skeptical as the County insists that the disinfected wastewater poses no threat to drinking water and requires no cleanup or remediation. The EPD’s regulations necessitate immediate reporting of non-compliant test results, and the County asserts it has followed these guidelines. They claim they are investigating the contamination cause and adjusting facility operations to meet testing specifications, but the spills continue.

Adding to the community’s worries, the spills in Allatoona are not isolated incidents. On July 2, a 710-gallon wastewater overflow occurred at 3170 Seven Pines Court in Atlanta, discharging into a tributary to Camp Bert Adams Creek. Numerous other spills have occurred across the county and the community is paying attention. A single spill may not be cause for concern, but ongoing spills demand answers that the County is not providing.

Despite the County’s attempt at offering assurances, many residents remain unconvinced and call for greater transparency and accountability. Some even suggest state intervention. They urge the County to provide clear and truthful information about the environmental and health impacts of these spills, particularly regarding the safety of Lake Allatoona and the broader water supply.

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