21st April 2014
The Sludge Bill will be signed into law this Wednesday, 23rd April, by Governor Deal at the Dawson County Government Administration Building in Dawsonville. The signing is currently scheduled for 10.45am.
All are welcome to attend.
This legislation helps to bring more control (of sewer sludge disposal) back into the hands of local jurisdictions. Sewer Sludge permit seekers must hold public hearings in the county or municipality where the dumping is to take place and areas that receive the sewer sludge must match the provisions of the county’s or city’s land use plan.
This is the outcome of a very successful grassroots action by individuals and businesses working together (for nearly 2 years!) with local and state government as well as their regulatory bodies. Thank-you to all who signed the original petition, called their commissioner, house representative, state senator, Benoit Causse and the EPD, and the Governor….and didn’t give up!
Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. (Margaret Meade)
House Bill 741 has been introduce by Representative Kevin Tanner that would alter the EPD regulations to make those seeking a land spreading permit for Sewer Sludge confirm that the proposed site complies with the jurisdiction's Land Use Plan and that public hearings would also be held in the jurisdiction of the proposed dumping.
This Bill has received widespread support from the EPD, ACCG, Conservation and Water Resource Groups and we are hopeful that it will pass through the current committee stage to the House floor in the next few days. Now would be a good time to contact House Representatives throughout Georgia to ask them to support this legislation...Vote YES and get this Bill over to the GA Senate for a similar vote THIS SESSION.
ACCG support video clip... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EljioWPF0t8
Late February 2013 According to Benoit Causse (EPD) Waterscapes services, who are seeking the land surface spreading permit, are looking at other ways to either dewater the sludge or find another place/way to dispose of it. This local issue may be on hiatus for now, but the longer term problem of how and where to dispose of Class B Sewer Sludge remains alive and well.....amendments to EPD regulations still need to be made to protect communities like ours Statewide.
On Monday 14th Jan. 2013 Dawson County BOC Chairman Mike Berg met with Sen. Steve Gooch, Rep. Kevin Tanner and the EPD Director Judd Tuner to discuss the land surface application permit requested by Waterscapes (Ken Curren) on the property near the corner of Harry Sosbee and Lumpkin Campground Rd.
Berg requested of Turner that the EPD consider a county’s “Land Use Plan” and “Zoning” to determine whether sludge could be applied to an area that was clearly “residential”. (The State requires that all GA counties submit a Future Land Use Plan, but not all counties currently have zoning regulations in place as does Dawson Co.) Turner could not confirm whether this would be possible without referring to his technical advisors but agreed to “get back” with an answer in a week to a week and a half.
Following this meeting with Gooch, Tanner and Turner, Berg (as incoming president of the ACCG) remained in a meeting with Turner and representatives of 5 neighboring counties – Union, White, Fannin, Pickens and Gilmer - as they discussed their own environmental concerns.
While Turner noted that the “sludge has to go somewhere” there are alternatives to surface land spreading or spraying that are already being used and new options being researched in other areas of the US as well as Europe (where EEC wastewater regulations are more stringent). With some of the top Engineering Schools in the US located in our State it is a wonder that this new business opportunity has not been studied here! …..While our population continues to grow so does the sewer sludge disposal problem and none of us want to live next door to a “midden”; those fuelled the Great Fire of London back in 1666. Surely we’ve learned a thing or six since then?
Update: Wed. 7th Nov. 2012 11am EST
The EPD in a letter, dated 17th Oct. 2012, to Ken Curren (agent to Waterscape Services who are seeking the permit) are requiring more technical details (regarding stream and dwelling buffers, slopes, soils, wetlands classification, crop selection etc.) to support their Sludge Permit request. This process will not only take time but will also cost money. While it could be hoped that this might cause Waterscapes to reconsider the prudence of pushing forward with this project it WILL cause a delay and push back in reaching the next stage in the process involving the beginning of the 30 day public comment period. This gives us more time to lobby our State legislators to make adjustments to the regulations that currently allow this type of sewer sludge to be dumped on the surface of land so close to residential communities and businesses….potentially regressing commerce and living conditions in Dawson County back to mediaeval times!
The over 3400 petition signatures DCHCA has collected so far will be presented with our request to “update the Class B Sewer Sludge surface land application regulations” to the Governor, The Speaker of the GA House, State House Representatives and State Senators……it’s not over yet, but progress has been made thanks to YOU and everyone who has signed the petition and made their opinion known! Don't forget YOU can still write or email your State House Rep. and Senator too (their contact information is at the bottom of this page).
We’ll just keep on keeping on until the job is done!
President Dawson County Homeowners
Friday 21st September @ 9.12 am EST (3.12pm GMT)
2nd Public Hearing of Sludge Ordinance 9-20-12
Phil Anderson, the new President of Big Canoe HOA, delivered a letter on behalf of 2000 residents (900 homes) objecting to spreading of sewer sludge in rural areas near Big Canoe as well as on the land parcel at the intersection of Lumpkin Campground and Harry Sosbee Roads.
David McKee confirmed that the draft permit has not been granted yet and that Benoit Causse, the EPD permit engineer, has requested additional information from Waterscapes Services LLC. (Apparently Ken Curren may no longer be acting as the agent applying for this sludge permit for Waterscapes.)
Gary Pichon (District 1 Commissioner, which includes Big Canoe) objected to the Sludge Ordinance on the grounds that the "County Commissioner's Handbook" specifically states that Counties cannot usurp State powers, and the State has the right to regulate sludge dumping. He asked Joey to give his opinion whether the County would likely win if it went to Federal Court as suggested by "some people" and Joey said in his view it was unlikely. Mike Berg, Commissioner Chair, then pointed out that it was "another tool in the tool box" and that if the Legislature passed new rules allowing local control of the issue, we would have an Ordinance on the books from day one. Gary Pichon asked if the Ordinance would be valid if the state legislation was amended to permit local ordinances even if the Ordinance is approved now (before any legislative amendments) and Joey Homans confirmed that it would. Jimmy Hamby, District 3 Commissioner, said that “we should stand up for ourselves”. Following the discussion, the Ordinance was passed (James Swafford, District 2 Commissioner was on vacation, so the voting was unanimously, 3-0, in favor of the Ordinance).
David McKee, County Planning and Development Director, has submitted the scientific and technical data opposing the permit to the EPD and asked for a public hearing should a draft permit be issued. Both David and Joey Homans (County Attorney) agree that with all the objections being raised the final permit would likely not be granted this year. If so, this would put us into the next Legislative session and give extra time to get the law and/or the EPD regulations amended.
We estimate that we are close to having 3400 petition signatures, with some petition sheets still to be collected from businesses in the county. We also estimate that there are very few duplicates or spurious signatures so that the overwhelming majority would stand up to an audit.
Although we have a “Sludge Ordinance” in place, like other tools in the tool box, much depends of the skill of the operator. Contrary to what some believe Federal Court action using the Clean Water Act to protect the choice of a county or municipality not to accept Class B sludge has been successful in saving several counties around the nation without interfering with their States’ preemption to regulate - but this has not been attempted yet in Georgia.
To avoid Dawson County being taken to State Court (where it is more likely to lose) it is still imperative that we continue to appeal (by email, calls and letters) to State Legislators to amend state regulations that still permit Class B Sludge (a partially treated human waste product containing pathogens and toxins that have not been fully processed into a less harmful byproduct) to be spread as close as 300ft from a dwelling or 250ft from a private well irrespective of how many dwellings, wells, schools businesses are in close proximity. - (Please scroll down to near the bottom of this page for legislators contact information......
You can also collect petition forms and information to share with your neighbors and friends. The website petition numbers are increasing day by day, so keep telling your friends and asking them to join us in our opposition to Dawson County being bullied into accepting Land Spreading of Class B Sludge.
Further detailed information is available from Dawson County's Government Website www.dawsoncounty.org
- IMPORTANT DATES:
The EPD has not announced a date for posting a draft permit on their website: http://www.gaepd.org/pls/enfo/notice_search.q_field (hit "submit" and an entire listing of EPD permits across the State appears)
SEND YOUR FACT BASED OBJECTIONS TO THIS PERMIT TO THE EPD:
Contact (Municipal Permitting Unit)
Location map of land parcel to be "sludged" http://dawsoncounty.org/uploads/files/planninganddevelopment/Sludge_Sprayfield_location_Map.pdf
Remember any adult can sign the petition just once, either online OR a downloaded version of the petition and that Land Spreading of this sludge threatens to affect any rural North Georgia Counties, so residents from these may have a strong interest in opposing this permit too. If Dawson deflects this dumping the "Sludgers" will just look for other places to go!
PETITON to OPPOSE EPD Sewer Sludge Permit
Applied for by Waterscapes Utility LLC to spread Class B Sludge (partially treated human waste) from Hampton Creek subdivision onto land in Dawson County.
DCHCA has prepared a public petition which is NOW on this website...see below! Or click here " download " for a copy of the petition and gather signatures from friends and neighbors.
Completed or partially completed petition sheets can be returned either by mailing them to DCHCA at P.O. Box 1294 Dawsonville GA 30534 or by scanning and emailing them to
The Petition Language:
Write or email your legislators:
State Senator Steve Gooch email:
321-B Coverdell Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 657-3248 fax
9th District State House Representative - Kevin Tanner email:
401 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
Office:404-656-0152 Cell: 678-776-5059
David Ralston - Office of The Speaker of the House
332 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
DCHCA is a Countywide Civic Association
DCHCA is a non-partisan advocate for the questions and concerns raised by our membership and provides a vehicle for individuals and groups to address these concerns with elected or appointed county officials to achieve positive benefits for our entire community.
We do not support nor endorse any political candidates, but we will publish factual information related to the political and governmental process, particularly as it affects or impinges on our quality of life, economically, environmentally, and socially. We also partner with other civic and charitable organizations working together in our community for our mutual benefit.
Our goal is to work in conjunction with existing Homeowner Associations, individual homeowners, elected and appointed local government officials and county staff to address common issues as they relate to:
- Environment & Resources
- Land Use Planning & Zoning
- Crime & Law Enforcement
- Community Health & Safety
By belonging to, and actively participating in the DCHCA, our neighborhoods have a voice as new issues and challenges surface in our ever changing County.