Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Oconee County Citizens Voice Opposition To Construction Of Pipeline Down Calls Creek

Want Alternatives Examined

More than 70 people turned out last night to hear Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie explain his plans to run a sewer line down Calls Creek, and all of those who spoke up told Haynie in no uncertain terms that they didn’t like the idea.

The meeting, called by a newly created group called Friends of Calls Creek, ran for about two hours and included a description by engineer Jimmy Parker of what easements for and construction of the pipeline would mean for residents along the creek.

The easement would be 30 feet wide, Parker of Precision Planning Inc. of Monroe said. And the county will seek additional easements for construction.

Most of the land within the easement would be cleared during construction, he said, and equipment would cross yards as necessary to access the construction site.

The pipe itself would be underground, and, where the banks are steep on both sides, would be cut into the bank, creating a shelf for the pipe to lie on.

Parker said the contractors would attempt to restore any banks disturbed and otherwise minimize disruption of the property.

No Alternates

Haynie told the group that, prior to last night’s meeting, the only route for the pipeline under consideration was the one in the Calls Creek corridor.

Wayne Haynie 3 28 2016

As a result of suggestions from the audience, however, Haynie said others would be considered, including along Simonton Bridge Road, along U.S. 441, and down an existing power line easement.

All of these would involve pumping sewage from the Calls Creek plant, which is just northeast of the Watkinsville city limits on a hill above Calls Creek, to these other routes.

The county, Haynie said, is trying to eliminate the need for pump stations.

Another Option

Haynie said the preferred method is to use gravity feed, and, since water flows downhill, Calls Creek itself was the preferred route.

By state law, the pipe cannot be in the creek, but rather must be at least 25 feet away from the creek’s bank.

In many cases, Haynie and Parker admitted, that means in the backyards of residents in Hickory Hill and other residential areas along the creek.

Another option, and one Haynie said he prefers, is simply to discharge more treated wastewater to Calls Creek than the state currently is allowing.

Meeting Delayed

The meeting began at 6:30 p.m., and the auditorium at the Watkinsville Library was filled with standing room only at that point.

Because of miscommunication between Jim McKay, one of the organizers, and Haynie, Haynie didn’t arrive until nearly 7 p.m.

The Utility Department director began his presentation with a description of various projects underway involving water and sewer in the county, but he was interrupted almost immediately by questions about the proposed pipeline.

Haynie turned to Parker, whose company has been doing the survey work for the proposed pipeline, for a status report and details.

Parker On Surveying

Parker told the group that he expected to have a route for the proposed pipeline to give to Haynie in the next couple of weeks.

The county will purchase a 30-foot easement for the pipeline, Parker said, and that easement will start at least 25 feet from the bank of the creek.

Twenty-feet of that 30-foot easement must remain clear once the pipeline is built, but the other 10 feet can be vegetated.

In addition, the county would purchase temporary easements to be used during the construction phase for access to the pipeline route and to allow for the construction itself.

Parker’s explanation of the easements and the construction is contained in this video, which runs about 11 minutes in length. The video also gives a sense of the mood of the audience.

OCO: Parker On Survey Work from Lee Becker on Vimeo

Project Background

Haynie has proposed the pipeline as part of an expansion of the Calls Creek sewage treatment plant, one of two such facilities in the county. The other is a Land Application System site on Rocky Branch Road.

The Calls Creek plant currently is permitted to discharge .667 million gallons per day of treated sewage water to Calls Creek, but the county is expanding that plant to 1.5 million gallons per day to meet current and future demand.

Haynie has announced plans to expand the Calls Creek plant to 3 million gallons per day in the future, but the state has said it will allow a discharge of only 1.5 million gallons per day to Calls Creek, a relatively small stream.

The proposed pipeline down the Calls Creek corridor would allow the county to discharge the additional 1.5 million gallons per day to the Middle Oconee River, which is larger and has more capacity to handle sewage waste.

Haynie said he will ask the state for permission to discharge the full 3 million gallons per day into Calls Creek.


McGarvey called the meeting to order and moderated.

Because of the confusion over the start time, the meeting was delayed and didn’t begin until McGarvey asked Vicki Soutar from Oconeewaters to speak on a meeting that group will hold at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, also in the Library in Watkinsville.

Oconeewaters also will discuss the proposed pipeline as well as other county water and sewer projects.

McGarvey asked me to summarize stories I posted here on March 6 and March 17 before Haynie spoke to give Haynie's comments context.

The video of the meeting is below. The clip of Parker above is taken from this larger video.

OCO: Friends Calls Creek 3 28 16 from Lee Becker on Vimeo


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for the Calls Creek residents, and any one else in the way of this or future pipelines, the needs of the many will outweigh the needs (or preferences) of the few. Beyond the sad destruction of dearly held property, the residents will not even receive the benefits of being connected to the very utility running through their backyards.

Yet another inexorable step in our transformation from Oconee to Gwinett.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the growth has moved in this direction. If Oconee County not been between Athens and Atlanta, we would not have seen thus growth that started 20 + years ago. Thank goodness, the citizens in the 1960s adopted zoning. If they had not, I would hate to imagine what our community would look like.

Anonymous said...

In regard to the comment above: on the surface, the comment above seems to be true, but if you dig deeper this project will not necessarily benefit the "many". Based upon the reporting of Lee, it appears the upgrades to the Calls Creek Plant and proposed pipeline do not truly solve the long-term wastewater needs of the County. In fact, the County is already looking at building another wastewater treatment plant in the future to accommodate the projected increased wastewater demands of the County. So, this project will actually affect all residents of the County because our tax dollars will be spent twice (Calls Creek upgrades and then a new plant that will make the Calls Creek Plant obsolete) to achieve one goal. It seems to me that the Commissioners and Planning Department are proposing a near-sighted fix to a long-term problem. This approach will ultimately result in overall higher tax dollar expenditures when compared to a comprehensive plan that accounts for future demand - this affects the entire County not just those in the Calls Creek corridor.

WE elect our decision makers and WE pay taxes in this County, thus we have a say in how the County spends our money, and we must voice our opinions to ensure it is done in a responsible and well thought out manner.

Xardox said...

After the grading equipment leaves and the dust settles,
and if done properly,
and after ten years, we won't know it's there.
Properly. Hmm.