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Fate of dredging on corps
County looking into creek plan
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Forsyth County News
It appears Forsyth County would have to go through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers if it wants to allow dredging along a stretch of Big Creek.

Commissioners recently heard a request from Lamar Suddeth and Jasper Pipeline and Grading to remove sand from the waterway off Hwy. 9, near the Big Creek Greenway.

After some discussion and speculation about what it would take, they directed County Attorney Ken Jarrard to look into the matter.

Billy Birdwell, spokesman for the corps Savannah district, said the county would have to have a pre-application consultation with representatives from the Piedmont office, which is a branch of the corps’ regulatory division.

“Depending on what it is they want to do, and how much they want to do, determines what kind of permit and under what authority they need to apply for that permit,” Birdwell said.

Eventually, Birdwell said, the county may apply for a permit, which the corps would then evaluate.

Commissioners and staff also discussed the state Environmental Protection Division’s role in allowing the creek to be dredged.

Jan Sammonds, EPD manager of the erosion and sedimentation unit, said the county may not need a stream buffer variance from the agency.

“If the dredging stays, which it generally would, between the banks of the creek, then our requirements would be fairly simple,” she said, adding that the creek’s buffers would have to be protected.

“And then the dredged materials would have to be put outside the buffer and stabilized and that’s something the corps would probably require too,” she said.

Mark Williams, who retired recently from his post as corps chief ranger on Lake Lanier, notified the Forsyth County News that the corps often permits dredging.

He said there is an active program in DeKalb County to dredge streams. Dredging is done annually on the lake and the upper Chattahoochee and Chestatee rivers.

“Removing silt and sand from Big Creek due to extensive upstream erosion that was caused by man is the correct thing to do,” Williams said.

“I have observed the sand removal process at Big Creek and Hwy. 9 off and on for many years. The county knew about the mining rights and should have accommodated it in the park’s design.”

During the commission’s Nov. 10 meeting, County Assistant Director of Engineering Tim Allen said access likely would be the biggest problem with dredging the creek, because of the new greenway.

He pointed out that a driveway that was once on the trail at Hwy. 9 is gone and the county “barely got the Big Creek trail built under the corps permit.”

Allen said he didn’t think the corps would ever allow anyone to dredge the creek again.

Tim Perkins, the county’s water and sewer director, pointed out that dredging the creek could be difficult because of conservation areas. Also the process, he said, is invasive.

Dredging uses a system of pipes that sucks water and sand out and separates them. Such a project could take anywhere from six months to a year to complete.

But if Suddeth were allowed to proceed, Perkins said, it could help with flooding.