A massive water main break shut off water across DeKalb County and residents are not happy

Welcome to 2018’s first great Atlanta disaster
DeKalb County water main break
Some DeKalb residents were lucky if they got this much water out of their taps.

Photograph by caristo/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Many DeKalb County residents had a rude awakening this morning when they turned on their showers and faucets to find, well, nothing. Sometime before 4:30 in the morning, a 48-inch transmission water main broke and flooded a section of Buford Highway north of I-285.

The infrastructure failure shut down roads and caused water outages across the county from Dunwoody to Decatur. Three Buford Highway businesses reported flooding, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management issued a boil water advisory for the entire county, Decatur schools closed, and DeKalb County schools released students early. DeKalb County Animal Services put out a call for donations of bottled water (they received a ton), while supplies at grocery stores quickly dried up. Many businesses, government offices, and restaurants shut down or adjusted their hours due to lack of water. At least one DeKalb Waffle House broke out its “No Water Menu.”

And, as could be expected, DeKalb residents weren’t exactly pleased.


And as if the story couldn’t get more bizarre, the AJC reported that Watershed Management director Scott Towler resigned on Monday, posting a memo he wrote to DeKalb County deputy COO Ted Rhinhart. The letter stated his resignation was due to “ongoing retaliatory actions by [Rhinehart] and [DeKalb] CEO Michael Thurmond in response to my refusal to violate the law and participate in unlawful activities in the operation of DWM, especially those which are a violation of the County’s Consent Decree and Federal and state environmental laws.” According to the AJC, Thurmond’s office denied the allegations.

As of Wednesday afternoon, water pressure started to return to country residences and businesses, although the boil water advisory remains in effect. Both City Schools of Decatur and DeKalb County School District have announced schools will be open Thursday.

Want to keep up with the restoration and what’s happening? The AJC is posting live updates here. And if you want to know which restaurants are closed, Eater Atlanta is keeping track of them here.