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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.