By Parish Howard
Neither recent downpours nor the promise of a stormy hurricane season appear to be enough to break the on-going statewide drought, that is, if Georgia residents do not take action.
The Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has asked cities across the state to enforce outdoor watering schedules in accordance with the statewide level one, or least severe, drought.
“It’s important that citizens conserve water now to help ensure there is a sufficient water supply in the coming months,” said EPD Director Carol A. Couch.
State climatologist David Stooksbury, working with Couch and the State Drought Response Committee, determines when steps like these need to be taken.
“We monitor stream flows, lake levels, precipitation, groundwater levels and other climatic indicators,” Stooksbury said. “It’s clear that conditions have worsened over most of the state during the past several weeks.”
Wrens City Administrator Donna Scott Johnson said that the water issues are particularly pertinent to residents of the city as work on two water tanks has diminished its overall storage capacity in the short term.
“We’re asking our residents to be mindful of this fact,” Johnson said Friday.
The city is contracting with crews for lead abatement and painting the outside of the tanks as well as sterilizing the insides. Work has nearly been completed on one tank and is soon to begin on the one on the south edge of town. Johnson said that when work is completed on the first tank, it will be brought back online before taking the second one temporarily out of commission.
“Danny (Wilkerson) has been keeping a close eye on water levels coming through the treatment plant,” Johnson said.
Citizens have been on notice, and only allowed to water on certain days, for the last two years.
“We’ve had to politely ask a couple of people to comply, but we haven’t issued any citations or anything,” Johnson said.
With the drought designation, the new statewide watering schedules will tighten the current schedules, allowing watering during only certain hours.
According to EPD, the new outdoor watering schedules statewide are as follows:
·     Odd-numbered addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays-12 midnight to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 12 midnight.
·     Even-numbered and unnumbered addresses may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays-12 midnight to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 12 midnight.
Under non-drought conditions, the state asks residents to water on the above days, but has no time restraints included. EPD allows for local governments and water utilities to impose more stringent watering schedules.
911 addresses need to be posted
• County nears completion on work updating maps, adding new roads and correcting addresses
By Jessica Newberry
As part of Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Phase II, Jefferson County’s E-911 system will soon be even more effective in emergency assistance.
For the past eight months, updating of county-wide maps began, adding new roads and homes as well as making adjustments to incorrect addresses.
“We are working to establish a consistency of addresses throughout the county,” said county administrator Paul Bryan. “We want to make this a community-wide effort to enhance emergency response.”
As well as updating E-911 data, updated map books will also be given to all emergency responders, fire departments and police departments.
The recent updates will also propel the land-line based Jefferson County E-911 into the next step of emergency response, mapping calls from cellular phones. These capabilities are in their earliest stages, and tests are currently being conducted with cellular providers to achieve a final ability to locate all callers from cellular phones.
Over 13 years ago, Cathy Arnett, president of Utility Support Systems, Inc., set up the original E-911 system for Jefferson County.
“We’re in the last steps of this update,” said Arnett. “We are mapping new roads using global positioning systems, resolving new road naming issues and placing fire hydrants on the maps.”
However, updated maps cannot be effective without an effort by all county citizens to visibly post their assigned E-911 address numbers.
According to a March 1995 Ordinance passed by the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, any owner of a residence, business or structure within the county is responsible for posting his/her assigned number on two locations in at least three-inch numbers on the structure. Numbers should also be posted on the mailbox or on a road-side marker in reflective numbers at least three inches in height.
Anyone in violation of this ordinance will be guilty of a misdemeanor charge in the Magistrate Court of Jefferson County with a possibility of receiving 60 days in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine or both.
“There is absolutely no point to updating the system when people won’t post numbers on their driveways or houses,” said Bryan.
Forstmann site owners discuss possible uses for property
• Former Forstmann site's new owners ask commission to pass a resolution stating it "is not opposed to domestic waste (septage) being accepted and treated"
By Jessica Newberry
Representatives of Flint Logistics Management, LLP, revealed a possible use for the old Forstmann property with a proposed resolution presented during a called meeting of the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners Wednesday, June 28.
The resolution, prepared by Flint Logistics, is an attempt to have the commissioners go on record stating that “the Jefferson County Commission is not opposed to domestic waste (septage) being accepted and properly treated as required by the Georgia Rules and Regulations and enforced by the Environmental Protection Division (EPD).” The resolution also stated that “such approval is contingent upon the system of treatment not becoming a public nuisance.”
When the original proposal addressed the treatment and disposal of only Jefferson County septage, board of commissioners Chairman William Rabun questioned the ability of local waste to support a waste water treatment plant. Flint co-owner Charlie Westberry expressed the possibility of other sources of revenue.
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“This is one of the most modern waste water treatment facilities in rural America,” Westberry said. “We have several options including treating domestic sewage from municipalities, restaurant grease or sewage from industries that might come in to the site.”
Purchased by Flint in 2001, the 400-acre property is equipped with a main building capable of housing up to five businesses. The property also has a waste water treatment facility with a four million gallon per day capacity, a feature that could serve as a magnet for industry in the area, according to Jefferson County Economic Developer Tom Jordan.
“This is an asset to the region and something that the county and most businesses could not afford to build,” said Jordan. “One of my goals is to develop this into something that could bring jobs and investment into the county, and Flint has been very good at working with the Development Authority to try to bring good industrial prospects to the area.”
Both Jordan and Westberry have referred to the site as a privately owned potential industrial park, which, with its infrastructure, could bring back quite a few of the jobs lost when the Forstmann plant closed shop.
Since the plant's December 1999 closing, the property has had a number of environmental issues and has been as subject of concern among area conservationists. Asbestos insulation had to be removed from various locations within the plant, and results from test wells on the property have indicated groundwater contamination for the past several years.
According to Westberry, Flint has spent approximately $1 million on environmental remediation throughout the property. In addition to the asbestos removal, Westberry said Flint has removed and disposed of over 100 tons of earth.
On Monday, July 10, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is scheduled to determine whether or not Flint has adequately remediated the issues that earned the property placement on the state's Hazardous Site Inventory (HSI) list.
The site has been on the list since 2003 and Westberry said the meeting could determine whether or not they come off the list, or if further monitoring or action would be necessary.
He felt strongly that the issues that put them on the list have been dealt with. However, the facility's history, and the prospective uses for the site still have some area conservationists concerned.
“We have strong concerns when waste treatment facilities locate in rural communities,” said Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeepr Chandra Brown. “The Forstmann property is already a hazardous waste site, and the county should approach this extremely cautiously. We would hate to see the county support this, especially because of its potential impact on the Ogeechee River. There are a number of reasons why this should not be approved including the existing problems and historical contamination of the site, its proximity to the Ogeechee and the potential impact on the economic development of the county.”
In the June 28 meeting, Commissioner Johnny Davis moved that the board of commissioners address the resolution at their August work session.
“We really just need to know what we’re dealing with,” said Davis.