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7-29-05 What is Real Status of Oconee Sewer Capacity?

Does this mean that ‘out of town’ developers and wealthy developers, through their deep pocketbooks, are really directing the county’s growth? There are also indications that about one-half of the Utility Department Revenue is going for debt service. Where are the funds to pay for the new additions and operations? Sewer service is a "loss leader" in the local utility business.

AVOC

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July 23, 2005

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What is Real Status of Oconee Sewer Capacity?

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

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As one travels in Oconee County, one sees many sewer lines being installed.   Many of them seem to be ‘force mains’ that will pump sewage from distant, far-flung places to the limited sewer facilities that Oconee presently has.During last year’s election cycle, there were all kinds of assurances that we have plenty of capacity and the taxpayers will not have to pay.HOGWASH!See the Gainesville Times July 21 article below on GA EPD’s action on sewer expansion in Gainesville.

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I spent 20 years of my local government career working on sewer capacity for Watkinsville and Oconee County.I had a major role in the building of the Calls Creek Plant and the Land Application System at Eastville.It was not easy to get that capacity and we had to use sparse funds to do it.

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Now that capacity has been greatly diminished by a ‘pocketbook’ sewer policy.We let developers pay connection fees and run lines all over the county.The force mains mean pump stations and the folks along such a line cannot easily connect to the line.Not only does this unwise policy accelerate unplanned growth and sprawl but puts much stress on current resources and taxpayers.

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AVOC sources have indicated there is about $ 5 Million accumulated by the Oconee County Utility Department from "connection fees".However, no ‘sewer letters’ have been issued since December.I have seen no agenda items or news reports that the permits and construction discussed last year have been forthcoming.

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Does this mean that ‘out of town’ developers and wealthy developers, through their deep pocketbooks, are really directing the county’s growth? There are also indications that about one-half of the Utility Department Revenue is going for debt service.   Where are the funds to pay for the new additions and operations?  Sewer service is a "loss leader" in the local utility business.

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Sources have also indicated that there is approximately 18,000 gallons of capacity remaining at Eastville.   Oh, we have been assured more is coming.However, AVOC has monitored the EPD permit applications notices and has not seen one for Oconee.   The Athens Newspaper writes periodically about the Orkin tract.   Guess what, Oconee could not provide any significant service today if something big came along.That was one of the main purposes of the LAS plant.However, it has been frittered away on residential development which was pretty aggressive before residential sewer service.

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School officials, parents, taxpayers and residents need to ask some serious questions.Some fast money has been made in Oconee County in the last couple of years.Will the pie and ‘pot of gold’ be big enough to include others in the near future?

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It is time for citizens to ask questions, attend public meetings, ask for records and be preparing for the next election cycle which is less than three years from now.Oconee needs to review its policies and direction with public involvement.Otherwise, our county will be overwhelmed and many ‘nouveau riche folks’ will have moved on to another ‘frontier’.

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SEE:

9-23-04 Oconee To Make Fast Growth Mistake Worse Than MPDs?

7-9-04 Oconee Studying and Postponing Many Projects and Problems -- Part 1

7-9-04 Oconee Studying and Postponing Most Projects and Problems Part 2

6-17-04 Oconee Wastewater System Master Study –Cost of $ 126 Million

7-14-04 Political Comment on Oconee 2004 Election Campaign & Zoning Issues

7-14-04 Political Comment on Oconee 2004 Election Campaign & Zoning Issues


7-21-05 GA EPD Rescinds Gainesville’s Lake Lanier 18 M GPD Discharge Permit

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AccessNorthGA.Com

http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/hall/newfullstory.asp?ID=94357

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July 21, 2005

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EPD withdraws Gainesville wastewater permit
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by The Associated Press

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ATLANTA - The state Environmental Protection Division has rescinded the city of Gainesville's permit to discharge up to 18 (m) million gallons of treated wastewater a day into Lake Lanier.
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The permit rescinded Wednesday had been in limbo for a year pending a legal challenge by some of the same groups fighting Gwinnett County's attempts to discharge treated wastewater into the lake.
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A hearing is scheduled for October.
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E-P-D Assistant Director David Word says Gainesville's permit was withdrawn in part because the Georgia Supreme Court denied a similar permit to Gwinnett County last November -- saying it was too lax on pollution limits.
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In September, the state Board of Natural Resources is scheduled to change E-P-D's rules regulating discharges into Lanier and other bodies of water clean enough for fishing and swimming.
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Word says if the board modifies the rules, the E-P-D would issue Gainesville's permit according to those rules.

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Gainesville is spending 21 (m) million dollars to upgrade and expand its Flat Creek Waster Water Treatment plant by two (m) million gallons a day. The plant eventually would handle up to 18 (m) million gallons of sewage a day.


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