Finally: a Solution to the Septic Situation

It’s hard to imagine, but in the 1950s – when many of our neighborhoods were built – Dekalb County’s sewer system was pretty new. In fact, many people thought the expense of getting their home connected to the sewer was not worth the money when compared to installing a simpler septic system. To some extent, those people were correct – their homes have gotten almost 70 years of use out of the septic systems they installed – and they didn’t have to pay for sewer fees on their water bills for all the years between then and now.

Today’s challenge is that many of those original septic systems are beginning to fail and this is affecting whole streets inside Doraville that had originally opted not to connect to sewer back in the 50s. Unfortunately, many of the lots that these systems were installed on are now considered too small to put in a newer septic tank. So homeowners are stuck with failing systems that are dragging down their property value and that are a risk to public health. Unfortunately, the cost to run a sewer line to an area that didn’t have it already has been prohibitive – sometimes over $100,000 per household. It was a no-win situation for everyone involved.

The Dekalb County Board of Commissioners – including our own commissioner, Nancy Jester – understood how important this problem was, and has done something about it. The county recently capped what homeowners will pay to have a sewer line extended to their house at $7500. Not only that, but the cost for this will be amortized over 10 years, so that $750 a year will be added to your tax bill for the next 10 years if your street chooses to take advantage of the program. While still a lot of money, that’s probably going to be easier for most people to handle on an annual basis than a one-time $100K hit. There would still be a separate cost to connect to the sewer from your house, which may run about $2500. Overall, though, this is still a huge benefit to residents who have been wanting to connect to the sewer for many years, but who could not afford the huge investment that it would have previously required.

A huge thank you to Nancy Jester, and the other commissioners for making this happen. Nancy’s Chief of Staff, Mike Davis, has compiled an amazing map of all the homes that are currently on a septic system in our district – which is also very helpful.  Feel free to reach out directly to the Watershed department at 404-371-3000 or to get the process started. If you end up needing help navigating the system, I’m happy to help – just send me an email at

You can read more about the County Commissioners’ decision in this article from the Dunwoody Crier.