Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis told the county’s Industrial Development Authority yesterday (Monday) that the state has granted the county a waste load allocation of 1.5 millions gallons per day for its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant.
What Davis didn’t tell the IDA members–and what they didn’t ask about–was the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s decision to deny the county’s request for a waste load allocation of 3 million gallons per day of discharge from the county’s plant.
Haynie also didn’t mention the denial of the request for the larger waste load allocation.
Because the state didn’t grant the requested 3 MGD of discharge into Calls Creek, the county now must decide to change its plans to upgrade its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant, to run a sewer line down Calls Creek, or to find another way to discharge treated sewer water into the Middle Oconee River.
EPD’s Decision Clear
In its letter to the county dated Sept. 23, 2016, Benoit Causse,. from the EPD Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program, was clear about the verdict regarding the county’s requests.
“The Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program (WPMP) has completed its evaluation of the WLA request for a discharge of 1.5 and 3 MGD of treated domestic wastewater into Calls Creek in the Oconee River basin. It has been determined that a WLA for 3 MGD cannot be granted because of the low annual mean flow of the receiving stream.”
The EPD said the county could have the 1.5 MGD allocation, provided it acted on the decision within a year or sought and received an extension.
The decision on the 1.5 million gallons per day of discharge into Calls Creek was not a surprise.
As Causse said in the letter, this allocation “supersedes” an allocation of an identical amount in 2007 that the county never utilized.
Importance Of 3 MGD
The county had sought permission to discharge the 3 million gallons per day of discharge into Calls Creek as an alternative to building a sewer line down the Calls Creek basin to the Middle Oconee River.
Residents along the creek have been in an uproar since plans for that pipeline became public this spring when surveyors showed up in resident’s yards doing work in preparation for the county’s seeking easements for the pipeline.
The county’s has oversold its sewage capacity and will need to upgrade its Calls Creek plant to handle demand as soon as 2022–only six years from now–Haynie told the Board of Commissioners at the Oct. 4 meeting.
Despite that, members of the Industrial Development Authority, which plays a role in development projects in the county that usually require sewage capacity, didn’t ask Davis at yesterday’s meeting about the outcome of the county’s request for the 3 million gallons per day allocation.
Davis’ report is below.
When Haynie briefed the Board of Commissioners on the letter from Causse at its meeting on Oct. 4, he made no mention of the request for the 3 million gallons per day for the Calls Creek plant, and none of the Commissioners asked about it.
The Oconee Enterprise report on the presentation by Haynie also made no mention of the denial of the request for the 3 million gallons per day, although I put the letter online and wrote about it on Oct. 2.
So unless someone reads this blog or receives email messages from Jim McGarvey, president of Friends of Calls Creek, he or she is unlikely to know about the decision.
The closest both Haynie and Davis came to mentioning the EPD denial was their reference to the planned meeting the county is holding on Oct. 26 to allow citizens to learn about plans for sewer expansion.
At the BOC meeting on Oct. 4, the Commissioners, without explanation, appointed five persons to the four open positions on the Industrial Development Authority.
County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko told me in an email message on Oct. 6 simply that “The Board elected to appoint 5 applicants to the IDA” and offered no explanation, though he was present in the executive session on Sept. 26 when the decision was made.
Those five were: Wayne Bagley (real estate developer) Matt Elder (Oconee Waste Transport owner), Ed Perkins (business consultant), Don Phillips (plant owner), and Linda Carol Porterfield (real estate).
Absent from the list was Larry Benson, who has served on the IDA for 18 years and asked to be reappointed.
Benson of Benson’s Bakery in Bogart and a long-time supporter of Chairman Davis, was not at the meeting yesterday and missed the two prior to that.
Rick Waller, IDA chair, made no mention yesterday of the appointments.
Perkins and Elder currently serve on the Authority.
BOC Chairman Davis told the IDA yesterday that issues regarding the widening of Experiment Station Road from Butler’s Crossing to the U.S. 441 bypass of Watkinsville have been “resolved.”
He did not elaborate, but he said the county would be on schedule for submitting the right of way acquisition documents to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara had said back in August that the county had run into a snag with its efforts to obtained needed easements from the University of Georgia for the intersection of Government Station Road and Experiment Station Road.
Beshara told me in an email message today that he was not aware that an agreement had been reached.
Video Of Meetings
The full video of the IDA meeting yesterday is below. Davis’ comments begin 31 minutes into the meeting.
The full video of the Board of Commissioners meeting of Oct. 4 is below.
Haynie’s report starts 20 minutes into the meeting.