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