Joseph’s Plan: Better Use of Data to Drive Infrastructure Improvements

Most of Doraville’s infrastructure was built in the 1950s, and has served the city pretty well over the course of its life. At this point, however, a lot of it is starting to wear out and needs frequent repair or replacement. This is especially true of our water system, which is maintained by Dekalb County Watershed Management.

Everyone has experience with a pipe bursting in their neighborhood, and having to deal with the aftermath (muddy street, brown water, possible boil water advisories). What’s most frustrating to me and other neighbors is seeing multiple bursts and repairs to the same stretch of water line over a sustained period of time.

There is one area of constant repair currently at the corner McClave and Alison. Repair crews have been out there multiple times over the last year, and I don’t think a permanent fix has been made yet. The burst pipes cause a huge mess in the street, lead to erosion and can make flooding worse by blocking our flood water infrastructure with dirt. The dirt also washes into Northwoods Creek, which is a tributary of the North Fork of the Peachtree Creek, killing plants and microbes.

Video of a recent water main break at McClave & Alison, as well as the aftermath

While the water infrastructure is something the county is responsible for, the city should start keeping a detailed record of where we are having these water main breaks and when. Public Works has already been asked to follow up with DeKalb Watershed to make sure they clean up after an event – why not just keep a record of where and when the event happened and report on it regularly?

If we had a heat map that showed our biggest infrastructure problems, it would help our mayor and other city officials when they meet with representatives of DeKalb County, and lobby for specific improvements. I think by taking a methodical and analytical approach, and taking the data gathered to the county, Doraville could see big improvements in its overall infrastructure health.

There’s nothing stopping us from doing this now! The data we gather could help us improve our city over the long run.