CLARKESVILLE — A favorite gathering place in Clarkesville could be closed for cleanup for a couple more weeks following recent flooding.
Pitts Park, located along the Soque River just off Ga. 197 North, was covered by water following recent heavy rains.
But it wasn’t just water. There also was sand, silt and raw sewage – a lot of it.
According to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, 35,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled in the Pitts Park area.
“The large spill was in Pitts Park,” said City Manager Barbara Kesler. “There are several manholes in Pitts Park that were completely submerged due to the flooding, which caused large amounts of inflow into the sewer system and subsequent spills.”
The impact of the spill was much less than it could have been under normal weather conditions, Kesler said.
“Environmentally, the concern when there is a spill that enters a stream is that the spill will deplete the oxygen levels in the stream, causing the fish and other wildlife to die,” Kesler said. “In this case, the quantity of stormwater diminished any environmental concerns because it was very diluted. In Pitts Park, the biggest problem is dealing with all of the silt and sand that gets deposited there during a flood.”
During this week’s Clarkesville City Council meeting, Scott Murphy of ESG Operations Inc., the city’s public works provider, provided an update of the challenges presented by the recent heavy rain and flooding events.
“In public works, the biggest thing on our board right now is the extensive damage to Pitts Park,” Murphy said. “We removed 120 tons of sand off just the driveway area Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week. We’re looking at probably two or three weeks in there at least.”
Kesler said ESG has been working in the park to spread the sand in even contours and then the park will be reseeded so that hopefully by late spring there will be new grass throughout the park.
“The walkway all along the riverside has been completely washed away,” Murphy said. “All that 57 stone and the crusher run that was on top of that is now all across the field and out in the river, so that will need to be replaced and reworked.”
Additionally, park fixtures are being cleaned.
“We’ll have to pressure wash and do some damage repair to the playground equipment and some of the structures out there, but the guys are working on that right now,” Murphy said.
Councilman John Mitchell asked Murphy if ESG personnel had assessed the Clarkesville Greenway Trail since much of it was underwater as well.
“It didn’t receive anywhere near the flood damage that Pitts Park did, but it did receive some damage,” Murphy said. “There are two particular washouts where storm drains have to be replaced and the gravel has to be replaced there.”
Murphy said he expected that work to be completed during the first part of this week.
“We should have that quickly corrected,” Murphy said. “Fortunately, it was a lot less severe that what was over at Pitts Park.”