Monday, November 05, 2012

Georgia DNR Waiting On Caterpillar Application For Discharge Permit For Oconee County/Clarke County Site

Presbyterian Homes Link

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is waiting for Caterpillar to submit its application for a pretreatment permit for discharge from the plant it has under construction at its site straddling the Oconee and Clarke county borders.

Bill Noell, unit manager for the industrial permitting unit of DNR, told me on Friday that Caterpillar has said it has filed the permit request, but he said DNR has not yet received it.

Noell said that DNR and Caterpillar have had a number of discussions about the volume and nature of discharge, including the possibility of a request by Caterpillar for a variance from some of the pretreatment standards.

Noell said he had heard discharge figures of from 40,000 to more than 100,000 gallons per day.

Josh Welte at DNR and also involved in the Caterpillar application discussions, told me late this afternoon that no application had been received today.

Volume Figures Important To County

Insert Presbyterian Village Here

The volume figures are important because Oconee County has only 1,067,000 in permitted capacity at its two treatment facilities, the Land Application System site on Rocky Branch Road and the Calls Creek Plant outside Watkinsville.

The Calls Creek plant is currently permitted at 667,000 gallons per day, but it can be upgraded to 1 million gallons per day of capacity. That upgrade can be made relatively easily, Chris Thomas, Oconee County Utility Department Director told me on Thursday.

The LAS site is permitted at 400,000 gallons per day. Given its location and the existing county sewer lines, the Caterpillar discharge would have to be treated there.

That site is currently treating between 175,000 and 250,000 gallons per day, Thomas said. The Calls Creek plant is treating between 350,000 and 450,000 gallons per day.

At maximum, that means the two Oconee County plants are processing 700,000 gallons per day of sewage.

But the county has made commitments to treat additional sewage and, in many cases, even received funds to hold that capacity for future use.

Unallocated Capacity Is 103,000 Gallons Per Day

Thomas told me that the unallocated capacity is only 103,000 gallons per day. That does not include the 60,000 he has been setting aside for the Caterpillar request. If the request goes much higher than that, he said, Clarke County will have to handle some of the discharge.

Included in the allocated capacity is 175,000 gallons per day for Parkside, the huge inactive residential development between Mars Hill Road and Hog Mountain Road, and 45,000 for Westland on U.S. 78. Westland also is inactive.

PHG Request Included In Allocation

Also included in the allocation is 62,906 gallons per day that Thomas has indicated is available to Presbyterian Homes of Georgia for its proposed Continuing Care Retirement Community on Rocky Branch Road.

That allocation replaces an allocation of 60,000 Thomas had made back in 2007 for the facility that PHG then was proposing for Bishop Farms Parkway near Butler’s Crossing.

The difference is that the new allocation will have to come from the capacity of the LAS facility, while the old allocation had to come from the Calls Creek facility.

PHG Review Delayed

On late Friday, the county made the decision to delay for a month review of the rezone, special use and variance request PHG is seeking for the Rocky Branch Road site.

Brad Callender, Oconee County planner, said that due to an advertising error, the rezone and special use requests for Presbyterian Homes must be moved to the Dec. 10 Planning Commission meeting. It had been scheduled for review on Nov. 14.

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to take up the review on Jan. 8, rather than at its meeting on Dec. 4.

Callender said the county sent the required legal advertisement to The Oconee Enterprise, the legal organ of the county, but because of what he called an “honest mistake” it was not inserted in last week’s paper, as was required for the county to maintain the original schedule.

NEGRC Completed Review

The Northeast Georgia Regional Commission has completed its review of the PHG proposal and found it “is in the best interest of the Region and therefor the State.”

The NEGRC web site still lists the project as under review, but Callender said he had been informed late last month that the review had been completed.

Callender sent me a copy of the NEGRC report.

NEGRC noted that “alternate transportation may be needed for some members of this community” and that this transportation could be provided either by Oconee County or Presbyterian Village itself.

It also noted that the developer “should consider the possibility of providing for future street-network connectivity to adjacent parcels in order to improve accessibility and lessen dependence (on) Rocky Branch Road.”

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