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.