EXCLUSIVE: Raw sewage dumped into Chattahoochee River

EXCLUSIVE: Raw sewage dumped into Chattahoochee River

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - Phenix City administrators say raw sewage has been directed into the Chattahoochee River for years, and it's creating a big mess for them.

City directors say they are working to uncover illegal pipes they believe former city workers installed.

Whenever pipes overflow, reaching ground level manholes, the city is required to report the incident to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Current Phenix City utilities representatives believe instead of reporting over-flows, former employees installed pipes like these to re-direct that sewage into creeks and rivers instead.

The latest pipe line was discovered two weeks ago. On Tuesday it was pumping rain water, but Phenix City officials say the pipe was formerly directing raw sewage into a creek that feeds into the Chattahoochee river.

That pipe makes the sixth illegal pipe uncovered since 2012. Officials believe they were installed by 2008 or earlier, meaning this line has fed gallons and gallons of sewage into water ways for at least 7 years.

"Several of them were hidden, they were covered up with dirt and other things so that you couldn't see, so they were obviously deliberately hidden," said Financial Director Stephen Smith.

Phenix City officials explain overflows happen on average 30 to 40 times a year, making the extent of waste pollution hard to estimate.

"We are fixing those problems, and that raw sewer is no longer flowing into the creeks, but these were deliberately piped into the system, gross violations of health and safety," said Smith.

Utilities director Roger Connor says Phenix City is growing, and must revamp sewage facilities. He explains that the unsanitary and illegal shortcut taken by former workers is now costing taxpayers a lot of money.

"It would have cost the city and its citizens less to have done those projects, done them right, and prepared for the future then, and do some along the way, instead of having to go back now," said Connor.

We reached out to Greg Glass, former Utilities Director, and have not yet been able to get in contact with him. City officials tell us that they intend to take their evidence to the Russell County District Attorney.

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