Tuesday, August 16, 2016

State Department Of Natural Resources Sampled Fish In Calls Creek In Advance Of Oconee County Expansion Of Wastewater Plant

17 Species Found

A nine-person team from the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources walked 250 yards of Calls Creek last Thursday looking for fish.

Thirty species would be a good number from such a sampling, according to Patti Lanford, team leader and Stream Survey Program Manager for the Wildlife Resources Division in Social Circle.

“We didn’t get that far,” she said.

The Stream Collection Report filed by the team lists 17 species, from Bluehead Chub to Snail Bullhead, with Redbreast Sunfish, Northern Hogsucker, Bluegill, and Large Mouth Bass in between.

The sampling was part of an assessment of the stream before the county increases the discharge of wastewater from its Calls Creek plant into the waterway.

Lanford said the Division will return to the stream after the county upgrades its sewage treatment plant off North Main Street on the northeast of the city at some point in the future.

Not For EPD

The county is asking the state Environmental Protection Division for an increase in its waste load allocation to discharge treated sewage into Calls Creek.

Survey Team

At present, the county has an allocation of 1.5 million gallons per day of discharge, though it actually is permitted at the moment to discharge only 1 million gallons per day and has a plant with only .667 million gallons per day of capacity.

The county has told the EPD it wants the agency to increase the waste load allocation to 3 million gallons per day.

The Wildlife Resources Division is a sister division to the Environmental Protection Division inside the Department of Natural Resources, but Lanford told me last week in a telephone conversation that the fish study her team undertook was not for the EPD.

Sharing Data

Lanford said that her team undertook the study of the fish population of the stream because a team member is from Athens-Clarke County and told her about the Oconee County’s plans.

The data from the survey will be given to EPD, Lanford said, but she has no control over what EPD does with the information provided.

The team worked in the creek downstream from the bridge carrying Hickory Hill Drive over the waterway.

Kris Hanna, 1060 Hunting Creek Lane, just upstream from the bridge, sent me a picture of the team just after 2 p.m. on Thursday and helped me get in touch with Lanford.

Barber Creek Sample

On Tuesday of last week, Lanford had a team of eight sampling from Barber Creek at Laurel Shoals subdivision.

That group identified 20 different species.

Turquois Darter topped that list in frequency, followed by Bluehead Chub, which was the most prominent fish on the Calls Creek list.

The team tossed the Calls Creek fish back into the stream after they were identified and counted.

Some of the Barber Creek fish were given to the EPD for freezing and further analysis, according to the Stream Collection Report.

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