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'System overload': Macon Water Authority says clogged drain caused flooding on Zebulon Road

The Macon Water Authority says a catch basin was clogged with piles of litter and cut grass.

MACON, Ga. — The Macon Water Authority says it was a "system overload" that caused a chaotic scene Sunday night along Zebulon Road.

The Bibb County Sheriff's Office and the Macon-Bibb Fire Department closed off part of the road from I-475 to near Peake Road for up to 2 hours on Sunday night.

This was all while crews worked to find out why the area was flooded with up to a foot and a half of water.

Cars were halted, and some vehicles were even stranded. Images from Sunday night show water all the way up to the car handles on some sedans. 

The culprit? According to Macon Water Authority, it wasn't just the 8 inches of rain, but also a catch basin on Peake Road.

"Once a double catch basin got stopped up by grass clippings and litter. It backs the whole system up where everything was flowing on top of the ground," said Marvin Land, storm water manager at Macon Water Authority.

Land says on top of that, 3 private retention ponds near by took in all the water they could handle, spilling more water out. 

So, it was up to that singular stopped up catch basin to catch up with all the rainfall.  

"It doesn't take much to have what we had Sunday night," said Land about the amount of litter and grass stopping up the drain. 

The question many viewers asked-- when was the last time Macon Water Authority checked the system? Land says they cleared this basin nearly a year ago in October.

"You would like to have a maintenance schedule of about six months. Is that doable? No. all we can do is get all we can being proactive and to keep addressing the complaints we have," Land said. 

The authority says since they took over the storm water division from the county about two years ago, they've cleared less than a quarter of the county's catch basins-- about 5,000 of the Macon-Bibb's estimated 24,000.

"Right now, we're just putting out fires where there's problems on a system that has had a lack of maintenance for years," Land said. 

If you live in Macon-Bibb County, you pay the Macon Water Authority about $4.99 a month to keep the storm water systems cleared. The authority says they collect about $10 million a year for upkeep. 

Director Joey Leverette says the authority has adequate staffing and that they're doing what they can with the funding they have.

Macon Water Authority Executive Director Joey Leverette says the authority will now check this spot more regularly to avoid this happening again. 


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