90,000 gallons of sanitary sewage floating in the Flint River

The sanitary sewage overflow occurred on Sunday. Photo: Kailey McCarthy

Currently, 90,000 gallons of sewage is rolling down the Flint River.

That's after the city of Albany suffered a sanitary sewer overflow into the river's east bank on Sunday.

FOX 31 spoke to one concerned citizen and city leaders to find out what must be done to fix the problem once and for all.

Leesburg resident Ryan Edmonds says he's disgusted by what he's seen on the Flint River.

"There was still toilet paper visible, there were other products that were visible, very very contaminated area, highly contaminated. There was a man hole cover that was missing," said Edmonds.

That's all part of a 90,000 gallon sewage spill that happened over the weekend in Albany.

Edmonds called city officials to notify them of the problem.

The man hole is now fixed but Edmonds says what remains here is unacceptable.

"It is unbelievable to me that we don't have the city officials all over this issue. The answer is not it's going to be fixed in a year or two, this needs immediate attention," said Edmonds.

When FOX 31 reached out to the Flint Riverkeeper organization, they too expressed disappointment over the current situation.

According to Flint Riverkeeper Executive Director Gordon Rogers, this is not the first time a spill like this has occurred and the organization is not responsible for fixing the problem.

Rogers adds, the city needs to have a serious discussion about allocating enough funds to fix the problem once and for all.

"What they can do overnight is begin to have serious discussions about allocating enough money to begin to fix it. It's going to take many years to fix all of it but they need to start now," said Rogers.

According to the city of Albany, the overflow was caused by equipment failures at a nearby lift station.

Mayor Dorothy Hubbard says the spill is contained and infrastructure is a top priority.

"We know that we have infrastructure issues and certainly we've patched up these sewer spills and been very lucky with being able to contain them in a way that has not been costly," said Hubbard.

Hubbard says that the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority has granted the city a 15 million dollar loan that will repair the east and west side receptors so that spills like this do not occur in the future.

Bids should be done in the next 45 to 60 days and the total project should take anywhere from between 16 to 18 months to complete.

Hubbard adds that the Flint must remain a priority for the city to succeed.

"That is just so so important to our tourism and to bringing people into Albany and having people want to come to visit us. We have to keep it clean in order for us to survive, in order to attract industry," said Hubbard.

Once the 15 million dollar project is complete, the life of the new equipment will be 50 to 75 years.

The 15 million dollar loan will be paid back entirely with SPLOST funds.

FOX 31 also reached out to Albany Sewer Systems Superintendent Jeff Hughes who says, "We had some equipment failures and are working to get those resolved. In the mean time, we are taking some precautionary measures to handle the flow until we do the permanent repairs and are trying to make preparations for the rain to handle the issues surrounding the spill."

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