Many residents in south Augusta were in total disbelief and disgust last week when an employee of Augusta’s utilities department actually dumped wastewater into the nearby Rocky Creek following flooding throughout a number of local neighborhoods.
Several homeowners in south Augusta discovered toilet paper and other sewage particles floating down Rocky Creek during the first few days of 2017.
Happy New Year, south Augusta residents!
Enjoy some sewage courtesy of the city of Augusta!
Such actions are totally unacceptable.
But the rest of Richmond County shouldn’t think they avoided the raw sewage because Rocky Creek just happens to dump into both Phinizy Swamp and the Savannah River.
Needless to say, it wasn’t a particularly good day for Augusta Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier.
One of his employees had literally dumped a load of sh** in his lap and all over south Augusta.
Wiedmeier did the absolute best he could to explain the employee’s actions, but they were really indefensible.
“He was trying to get the water out of their yard as soon as possible,” Wiedmeier told WJBF News Channel 6 last week. “What he should have done and started doing after that was haul it to the wastewater plant. It was the heat of the moment and it won’t happen again.”
Augusta should hope not.
But apparently it didn’t just happen once. South Augusta residents told the news station that the city employee dumped the sewer water into the creek at least three times.
Such actions could cause the spread of fecal bacteria throughout the nearby neighborhoods in south Augusta. The dump was so extreme that the city agreed to lay down lime in some streets in south Augusta to help mitigate the foul smell.
Not long after the employee’s unthinkable action, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division was notified and it began investigating the incident, according to WJBF.
As a result of his actions, the city employee was reprimanded.
It was not a proud week for Augusta’s utilities department.
The sad part of the whole situation is Wiedmeier is actually a very professional and competent department director.
He is one of the best in Richmond County.
Unfortunately, some of his employees apparently aren’t doing him proud.
For Wiedmeier’s sake, let’s hope the utilities department employees begin thinking twice before committing such disastrous actions like dumping sewage into a local creek.
After all, this is the same department that caused quite a controversy last year when the Highland Avenue Water Treatment Plant experienced a “spike in turbidity” that resulted in a totally uncoordinated boil water advisory in major sections of Richmond County.
While, in no way, shape or form did last year’s problems at the water treatment plant seriously endanger the health of the public, it still disrupted the operations of schools, hospitals and several businesses in Augusta.
The problem occurred because the city of Augusta did not quickly notify the public that there were was a problem with a “spike in turbidity” at the plant.
The truth of the matter is, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division was concerned enough about the incident that it called for a boil water advisory for a large portion of the county on that same day.
Such an advisory should have immediately meant all hands on deck.
Instead, it took more than two hours for the utilities department to begin notifying the public.
When the Augusta-Richmond County Emergency Management Agency finally did get word of the boil water advisory, it didn’t send out any notifications until after 7 p.m. that day.
Most local news stations didn’t have enough information available about the boil advisory for their 6 o’clock news broadcast that evening.
The Augusta Chronicle didn’t post a story about the boil watery advisory until after 7 p.m. on the day that the boil water advisory was issued.
And then, finally, there was an official email sent out to the public just after 9:30 p.m. from Dee Griffin, the public information officer for the Augusta Fire Department and Augusta-Richmond County Emergency Management Agency.
The email was titled, “Augusta Leaders Urge Residents and Businesses to Comply with Boil Water Request.”
By that point, what was most people’s reaction to this urgent email?
“Zzzzzzzzz,” as they were snoring in bed.
Such incidents definitely mean that all of the city’s departments need to be better coordinated and aware of any potential health risks to the public.
As soon as an incident occurs, the public needs to be notified.
Even if that means that a city employee must quickly acknowledge and admit that he has dumped wastewater into a neighborhood creek.
As terrible as it sounds, residents deserve to know the truth about such incidents as soon as possible.