Sunday, January 29, 2017

Oconee County Utility Department Director Says He Will Not Ask Commissioners To Build A Pipeline Down Calls Creek

1.5 MGD Plant Upgrade

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie is scheduled to ask the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night to approve his upgrade plans for the Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant, but he says those plans do not include an effluent pipeline down the creek.

In fact, Haynie told Jim McGarvey of Friends of Calls Creek in an email message on Friday that the county is no longer planning a sewer line down Calls Creek.

Rather, Haynie told McGarvey, current plans are focused on new facilities on the Middle Oconee River, even though the plans to be presented on Tuesday night include design components for a larger facility at the Calls Creek plant.

The commissioners also on Tuesday night are scheduled to consider changes to the county’s ordinance regulating the determination of capacity allocation once the new Calls Creek plant is online.

The Board also is to interview applicants for the Joint Comprehensive Plan Stakeholder Committee. A total of 26 citizens have applied, but not all have indicated they will be present to be interviewed for the Committee, which is to have between 20 and 25 members.

Pipeline Opposition

Haynie 1/18/2017

Residents along Calls Creek east of Watkinsville have been up in arms since February of last year, when surveyors appeared in their yards staking out a route for a sewer line through the creek basin.

The announced plan was to pipe treated sewer water from an expanded 3.0 million gallons per day Calls Creek plant on the northern edge of Watkinsville to the Middle Oconee River.

The pipeline plans were a contingency should the state confirm its earlier determination that Calls Creek could handle only 1.5 million gallons per day of treated sewage plant effluent.

The state Environmental Protection Division in late September told the county that it had reconfirmed its earlier evaluation of the assimilative capacity of the stream.

McGarvey Correspondence

In an email message of Friday, Haynie told McGarvey, one of the organizers of Friends of Calls Creek, that “we are not planning for a sewer along Calls Creek.”

Haynie said that he will present to the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night the design for what is “essentially a brand new plant, repurposing existing tankage from the existing Calls Creek operation.

“There is no effluent pipeline or other sewer to be considered by the BOC,” he said.

“(L)ooking past this 1.5 MGD expansion," Haynie added, “we are seeking the next capacity upgrade on the Middle Oconee River, so that we identify and acquire that long anticipated site.”

Expansion Flexibility

Haynie did acknowledge that the expansion plan he will present to the Board includes “features to efficiently expand, should the need arise.”

In the future, Haynie said, the county might build a small plant on the Middle Oconee River or a regional pump station on the Middle Oconee that would pump sewage back to the Calls Creek plant for treatment.

“I want to assure you,” Haynie wrote, “after the 1.5 MGD expansion at Calls Creek, the only way a sewer pipe would be planned along Calls Creek is if we decommissioned the Calls Creek plant and had to transport that flow downstream to the larger M.O. (Middle Oconee) Plant.”

Were that scenario to come to pass, Haynie said, “I'm sure other alternatives (to the Calls Creek pipeline) would be considered.”

Haynie wrote to McGarvey after McGarvey asked if the planned expansion of the .667 million gallons per day plant at Calls Creek to 1.5 million gallons per day would be “designed as to be expandable.”

Haynie said it would.

Capacity Policy

The Commission on Tuesday will consider a revision to the county’s existing policy on wastewater capacity fees that would incorporate the expansion of the Calls Creek plant to 1.5 million gallons per day.

The ordinance before the Commission states that not more than 40 percent of the capacity of any sewer treatment facility can be allocated to residential use.

In allocating additional residential capacity resulting from the plant expansion, priority will be given to projects already zoned and approved for development by the county, followed by projects for which zoning has been completed but which have not been approved by the county for development.

Next in line will be projects previously proposed and with a wastewater flow projection.

The ordinance will update ordinances passed in 2010 and 2011 dealing with capacity allocation.

In 2003, the county passed a separate ordinance stating that the county can refund capacity fees.

“Capacity shall be reserved for a period of three years,” according to the ordinance. “However, should the applicant not have connected to the Oconee County sewer system by the expiration of such three years, the County may elect to refund any such charges. Upon such refund, such party shall no longer have any claim for capacity in the Oconee County sewer system, nor any priority for same.”

Comprehensive Plan

At the Dec. 20 meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Planning and Code Enforcement Director B.R. White outlined plans for the Joint Comprehensive Plan Stakeholder Committee that will develop an updated Joint Comprehensive Plan for the county and its four cities.

White said the Committee would consist of 20 to 25 citizens.

Development of the Comprehensive Plan is an 18-month process with adoption required July 1, 2018, by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, White said.

The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday will interview those who have applied for the Stakeholder Committee and are able to be present at the meeting.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.


Anonymous said...

Utility Director does not make the decision on pipe down Calls Creek. The current long range plan adopted in 2005, has a pipe down Calls Creek. To my knowledge that plan has not been amended or revoked. None of us may be around, but a pipe will be down the Calls Creek and many others as well.

Lee Becker said...

Dear Anonymous 10:55,

The agenda item for Tuesday states that Haynie will discuss the expansion of the Calls Creek plant. As you state, he cannot do anything without Commission approval. The Commission also would have to vote to fund a pipeline down Calls Creek. The Utility Department director only recommends.

The 2005 plan does include a pipeline down Calls Creek. It is for the contingency that Haynie mentioned in his letter to McGarvey. If the county were to close the Calls Creek plant, it would have to move the sewage collected there to another plant, presumably on the Middle Oconee River. And that would require a pipeline down Calls Creek. The 2005 plan lists closing the Calls Creek plant as an option. Another is to continue to operate it.

As far as I have been able to learn, the Commission never adopted the 2005 plan. I was told on several occasions by former Utility Department Director Gary Dodd that it was just a plan and had never been acted on by the Commission. Regardless, the Commission could change the plan at any time. Nothing in it is binding.

The 2005 plan does include pipelines down most of the creeks in the northern part of the county, including Barber Creek, which runs behind my house. I do hope I am not here when that pipeline is built, but I have known of its existence on the plan since shortly after the plan was produced.

Thanks for the comments.



Anonymous said...

Rather, Haynie told McGarvey, current plans are focused on new facilities on the Middle Oconee River, even though the plans to be presented on Tuesday night include design components for a larger facility at the Calls Creek plant.
Haynie did acknowledge that the expansion plan he will present to the Board includes “features to efficiently expand, should the need arise.”

-Sounds like an end around! Be vigilant Friends of Calls Creek!

-"Should the need arise"??? Ten years ago, Melvin and Jim Luke grossly overestimated the population growth of the county, and its costing taxpayers tens of millions in bond payments:

Y'all, be very, very careful when its comes to the growth estimates for the county. And more importantly, WE decide how the county will grow, not developers, not the Planning Dept. staff (which approves everything that comes across their desks), not "Old Oconee" money families, not Friends of Melvin Davis such as out of county magnate Frank Bishop, etc., etc.

barb carroll said...

sadly, i trust nothing haynie says. his position changes routinely and drastically on the calls creek sewer.

barb carroll said...

first comes the plant expansion...then the sewer pipe down the road, fait accompli. haynie et al now saying "you win, we're going to do something different" while simultaneously proceeding exactly in the (despised) same/initial direction.

this is total nonsense, a waste of taxpayer money and time that assumes we are just stupid and/or ignorant.

take the $14 million for the (first) calls creek expansion and begin the middle oconee plan now. leave the oconee plant open and be at current capacity. work with clarke county as needed in the interim.

this aint rocket science.

this aint rocket science.

Xardox said...

The only thing clear about this issue is that confusion reigns.

Anonymous said...

Are we being "knee jerk"?

That's what you'll hear from non-stop growth advocates, developers (in and out of county), the Planing Dept. Director & staff who can't say "No", the "Old Oconee" families with plenty of land to sell, Frank Bishop, Jamie Boswell, Ken Beall aka Mr. Fast Food, the Industrial Development Authority, etc., etc.

But these statements from Haynie just don't pass a small test. He's going to do everything possible to enlarge the Calls Creek plant while telling those potentially affected "don't worry, it's not in the plans".

Our next door neighbor Athens-Clarke County has the excess capacity. It's up to John Daniell, the other four commissioners, and Haynie to make it work. ACC didn't want to work with Melvin...who did? Swallow your pride and work with ACC, which potentially saves millions while buying a few years to properly plan out future needs.

Taxpayers now owe $42 MILLION for past water bond projects, and Melvin grossly overestimated the need for water, and that doesn't even count millions more to get the Bear Creek Reservoir water from south Walton County to Oconee:
"The county owes $9 million on a bond issued in 1998, $5.8 million for bonds issues by the Upper Oconee Water Basin Authority for the Bear Creek Reservoir, and $27 million in bonds and loans for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir."

How many failed subdivisions are remaining? They had three years to use their sewer capacity...Take it Back!

Sorry if we're being "knee jerk", but Haynie's statements just don't sit right. The Friends of Calls Creek and all county residents need to keep their guard up. John Daniell: PLEASE work with ACC, it's the best option by far.

Anonymous said...

From Friends of Calls Creek, posted today:

In the past 12 months, we have seen a constantly changing and confusing pattern of plans for sewage processing in Oconee County. In all the iterations of all the plans, a pipeline down Calls Creek has been a constant...that has not changed.

It has become challenging to keep track of the Utility Department's ever changing plans, to wit:

This past Spring, the plan was to upgrade the existing plant.

This past Summer, the plan was to expand the plant, over the years, to 6 Million Gallons Per Day (MGD)

This past Fall, that plan was then scaled back to expand the plant only to 3 Million Gallons per Day, The GA EPD nixed that idea on September 23rd, so...

This past January 18th, the plan, we were told, was to build a completely new 1.5 Million Gallons per Day plant at the current Calls Creek plant site for a cost of $13.5 million with a second plant on the Middle Oconee to be built by 2025 at a presumed cost of another $13.5 million for a total, including land purchases reaching $30,000,000+.

This past Friday, January 27th, just nine days later, yet another plan was presented to FOCC via an email from Utility Director Mr. Wayne Haynie. In that email, Mr. Haynie states rather than build a second plant on the Middle Oconee, the County would build a new Calls Creek $13.5 million plant that will be expandable. Then, in the near future, an "accumulator" will be built near the Middle Oconee River where county-wide sewage will be accumulated and force pumped, with a super pump, up five stories in elevation to an expanded Calls Creek plant. By 2022 the Calls Creek Plant discharge will most certainly be more than the 1.5 MGD permitted by the GA EPD. Thus, the additional effluent will need to be discharged in a pipe down our Calls Creek.

The County has never taken the pipeline down our Calls Creek off the table of options.
For a another perspective of the comments above, please see:


The Tuesday, January 31st, BOC Agenda Meeting is overflowing with Utility Department Issues that directly affect the FOCC,

We all need to attend the next two BOC meetings to see and hear the latest plan that could ultimately destroy our Calls Creek.

Tuesday, January 31st- BOC Agenda Meeting

Tuesday, February 7th - BOC Regular Meeting

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