The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has denied Oconee County’s request for a 3.0 million gallons per day waste load allocation for Calls Creek, saying the stream is too small to handle the treated effluent.
The denial means that the county will have to change its plans to upgrade its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant on the outskirts of Watkinsville, run a sewer line down Calls Creek, or find another way to discharge treated sewer water from an expanded Calls Creek plant into the Middle Oconee River.
Residents along Calls Creek have voiced strong and persistent opposition to construction of a sewer line down the creek, with many saying they will force the county to take condemnation action against them to get easements for the sewer line.
The state EPD did tentatively grant the county a waste load allocation of 1.5 million gallons per day, which will allow the county to expand its Calls Creek plant from its current 0.667 million gallons per day to the 1.5 million level.
Letter Dated 9/23
In correspondence earlier this year, the county asked the EPD to confirm its allocation in 2007 of 1.5 million gallons per day for the Calls Creek plant and expand that to 3.0 million gallons per day.
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In a letter dated Sept. 23, 2016, Benoit Causse, from the EPD said the Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program had completed its evaluation of the county’s request.
“It has been determined that a WLA for 3.0 MGD cannot be granted because of the low annual mean flow of the receiving stream,” the letter, sent to Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie, read.
Haynie made the letter available to Jim McGarvey, one of the leaders of the Friends of Calls Creek, a group formed to oppose the sewer pipeline.
McGarvey gave me a copy of the letter.
Haynie has proposed that the county expand its Calls Creek Plant, one of only two sewage treatment facilities in the county, from its current 0.667 MGD level to 1.5 MGD and then expand the plant further to 3.0 MGD.
The letter from Causse states that the allocation of 1.5 MGD is “for planning purposes only” and is valid for one year, unless an extension is requested and granted.
Since the plan is to expand the area served by the Calls Creek plant, the EPD is requiring the county evaluate its Watershed Protection Plan and perform and antidegradation analysis justifying the proposed discharge.
Haynie proposed that the county expand its Calls Creek plant and divert sewage to it because the Board of Commissioners has taken no action on the recommended construction of a sewage plant on the Middle Oconee River.
Kind of puts the brakes on all of those plans made before this crucial step had an answer.
Now perhaps a plan taking into account a holistic approach can be made.
Sadly, the best answer, a partnership with Athens, looks remote. Perhaps with our new leadership, this can be salvaged.
From what I remember 1.5 million will take you to 2025, that is the projection I believe was made, maybe by that time your commissioners will have worked something out. If the 1.5 will accommodate your needs both present and future then now is the time to slow down growth and stretch this 1.5 as far as it will go. And I must agree with Anon 4:00pm that a partnership with Athens would have been a very good choice, but it will not be salvaged unless somebody is stroked properly, nothing is free.
Wayne Haynie said at the BOC meeting last night (Oct.. 4, 2016), that by 2020 the county would need to be looking at expansion beyond 1.5 MGD and that constructiion would have to be underway in 2022.
Ha-ha. They needed the EPA to tell them the creek is too small!? I could have told them that!
I don't think expansion is the answer. They need to divide the sewerage system, and move to a different location. I've been to that treatment plant, and it's just too small over there to expand. Plus, expansion is going to cause extra debris runoff into the creek.
A sewer line won't help unless it's pumping waste somewhere else. Build a second plant that is the size of Call's on the Middle Oconee. Make sure it follows the same methods as the one at Call's. Minimize environmental impact by keeping sewerage plants small and spaced out. Those waterways aren't just pretty to look at. They serve a purpose!!
Same anonymous from before, too. Some things to add:
The pipeline shouldn't follow the creek, either. It might bust. An alternate route needs to be found. All newer developments should link up to the new Middle Oconee plant, and a few outlets that are causing stress to the current system can be redirected to divert the waste to the new plant.
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