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3-17-06 Oconee heeding right advice on sewer (and water) issues?

As one who managed the budget process for a dozen years, I have much concern and skepticism about the cavalier attitude of some Oconee Officials toward funding some of the big proposals. Oconee County is getting too ambitious and trying to move too quickly. (Big Park- $ 10 Million; New Jail $ 10 Million; Wastewater $ 10 to $ 100 Million; Water Reservoir and treatment $ 110 Million and rumors of plans to “move” the Administration Complex out of Watkinsville, etc. ………………………….. I know (from experience) it means more debt that will require more growth to pay the “freight” and have the customer base! Is that really what Oconee Citizens want? I think not and also find it is not how many of my friends and neighbors think.

AVOC

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March 11, 2006

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Is Oconee heeding right advice on sewer (and water) issues?

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

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I spent 30 years working with local government.   Much of that time involved the establishment of the Watkinsville Sewer System, the Land Application System at Eastville and extension of water lines and capacity in Oconee.   I (as City Attorney) was very involved in the details of acquiring property, easements and building the Watkinsville Sewer System in Watkinsville in the mid-eighties and later expansions when it became part of the County System.

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During much of the 90’s, as County Commission Chairman, I was very active in trying to increase Oconee’s sewer capacity.I personally looked at numerous potential sites, met with a number of owners and visited numerous sites.    We only located the LAS site at Eastville after we found interest by the owners, two of which had engineering background.It was a long process in building the system over much objection and complaints by citizens (some of whom later wanted to use the same capacity for residential development!

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I say all that to offer some credentials, experience and expertise on the subject of sewer.    Knowing the long process for permitting, funding, building and operation makes me skeptical of some media reports about ‘pie in the sky’ type projects.   There were several lessons learned in Water and Sewer projects, some of which are:

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1.Engineers are expensive and do not always agree;

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2.Nothing is ever as easy or foolproof as we laymen tend to think;

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3.It is an expensive process that can strain resources of a community;

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4.If not managed properly, it can lead to haphazard growth- as we have seen in Oconee in the last few years;

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5.Special interests will try to influence the process to the exclusion of citizens and sometimes the Public Interest;

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6.Some decisions will impact generations of residents;

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7.Environmental and regulatory agencies are not a ‘cake walk’;

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8.“Rome was not built in a day!”

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As one who managed the budget process for a dozen years, I have much concern and skepticism about the cavalier attitude of some Oconee Officials toward funding some of the big proposals.Oconee County is getting too ambitious and trying to move too quickly.   ( Big Park- $ 10 Million; New Jail $ 10 Million; Wastewater $ 10 to $ 100 Million; Water Reservoir and treatment $ 110 Million and rumors of plans to “move” the Administration Complex out of Watkinsville, etc.

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I know (from experience) it means more debt that will require more growth to pay the “freight” and have the customer base!Is that really what Oconee Citizens want?   I think not and also find it is not how many of my friends and neighbors think.

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SEE:

5-10-04 Oconee Sewer Capacity At Calls Creek

5-10-04 Oconee Sewer Capacity at Eastville LAS

5-10-04 Oconee’s “Pot of Gold” Fuels MPDs & Land Rush

6-8-04 Sufficient Oconee Sewer Capacity or More “Smoke and Mirrors”?

5-4-05 Sewer Capacity, Cost and Effort, and Oconee County Plans

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

3-3-06 Oconee Sewer Capacity- Cost & “Cart before the horse”. Eastville WWF Expansion


3-10-06 Oconee Citizen has questions about Oconee Sewer Plans

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The Athens Banner-Herald

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/031006/letters_20060310062.shtml

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March 10, 2006                         LETTERS

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Lee Becker: Oconee officials must explain sewage plans

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County officials also should explain why they ignored the advice of the consulting firm Jordan Jones & Goulding. That firm wrote in its draft wastewater plan that Barber Creek is "considered to be too small to receive a substantial quantity of treated flow." In fact, JJG recommended that the county phase out the Rocky Branch treatment plant. Effluent from that expanded plant is earmarked for Barber Creek.

Then there's the matter of funding. JJG warned county officials the sewage treatment expansion it has in mind is going to be "difficult for the county to finance" and said that additional taxes may be needed.

Oconee County is expanding its sewage treatment capacity to encourage continued residential development in the county. Barber Creek is going to be but one victim. Citizens need to attend the March 14 meeting and demand explanations.


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