Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Richard Milligan

Second Advisor

Dr. Katherine Hankins

Third Advisor

Dr. Ellis Adams


In DeKalb County, metro Atlanta, GA, frequent and high-volume sewer spills, aging wastewater infrastructure, and increasingly high-density development have left the county with limited solutions to waste management challenges. As a result, a federal judge issued a consent decree to DeKalb County to mitigate these sewage spills, which mandated $700 million in sewer improvements to redress 836 raw sewage spills between 2006 and 2010. Although DeKalb County is rehabilitating its wastewater pipelines, innovative and sustainable solutions are needed. This research investigates key ideas in urban political ecology and hydrosocial geography. Through a case study of Emory University’s WaterHub, a small-scale wastewater facility in DeKalb County, this thesis examines socio-natural sewage characteristics and the problems they pose for institutions and cities. Results address connections between primary stakeholders’ motivations, integrative water management, stakeholder perceptions, and significance of this case study to the larger DeKalb County area.

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