Saturday, November 13, 2010

Regional Commission to Hold Meeting on Calls Creek at Government Annex

Goal: Make Creek Safe

The Northeast Georgia Regional Commission will hold a meeting starting at 6 p.m. on Nov. 16 at the Oconee County Government Annex on SR 15 to present the results of its study of pollution of Calls Creek and its recommendations for dealing with the contamination.

The meeting is a follow-up to one held in September, at which data were presented from monitoring of the stream from March through September and from a walk of the stream from its origins west of Watkinsville to its confluence with the Oconee River just upstream from Simonton Bridge road.

The monitoring plan calls for continued sampling of data from the stream from nine different sites until the end of the year.

The study is the consequence of the classification by the state of Georgia of a section of the stream as impaired due to a fecal coliform reading in 2004 of 9,000 colony forming units (cfu), or more than double the 4,000 cfu standard for the sampled time period.

That state took its reading just upstream from confluence of Calls Creek and the Oconee River and about two miles downstream from where the Oconee County Calls Creek sewage plant discharges. The discharge from the sewage plant is constantly monitored to meet state discharge standards.

The state designated the 4-mile segment of the creek from where Lumpkin Branch meets Calls Creek near the county jail to the Oconee River as impaired. Calls Creek is roughly six miles long.

The popular Harris Shoals Park in Watkinsville is on Calls Creek.

NEGRC initiated the monitoring plan in March to determine the source of the contamination and to develop strategies to reduce it.

At the first meeting in September, the monitors reported that the stream was “visually healthy.” At the same time, the report said that “debris was found in larger quantities near houses and other developments.”

A report by those who walked the stream noted “trash and rusting appliances” and “junked vehicles” near the county’s sewage plant. “During the stream walk,” according to the report, “students observed a foul smell immediately at and after”the sewage plant.

The report is called a Visual Field Survey.

NEGRC states that its goal for the project is to “bring Calls Creek up to regulatory water quality standards so that it is again safe for community use.”

The meeting on Tuesday will be held in the Small Conference Room at the Annex, 1291 Greensboro highway (SR 15).

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