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Riverkeeper carries through with lawsuit
Organization claims work at swim site broke laws
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Forsyth County News
An environmental watchdog group has followed through on its pledge to sue the city of Cumming.

The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper contends Cumming violated four laws protecting water quality and natural resources when a contractor cleared land for the city’s aquatic center on Pilgrim Mill Road.

“The goal of the lawsuit is to protect water quality on the site and on Lake Lanier,” said Jason Ulseth, director of technical programs for the nonprofit group.

Ulseth, a Cumming resident, first noticed the clearing and brought to the organization’s attention what he described as “probably the worst site I’ve ever seen out of the thousands of sites I’ve worked on.”

The group notified the city of its intent to sue in April.

Kevin Tallant, the city’s attorney, said the city has been “diligently working on this with the [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] and the [state Environmental Protection Division] to resolve their concerns before the Riverkeeper ever mentioned anything about this.”

The city, Tallant said, denies the allegations described in the lawsuit.

A stop work order has been issued while the city pursues a resolution with the corps and EPD.  

“There is, to my knowledge, nothing in the lawsuit that would prevent the city from continuing to work with the EPD and the corps, and then once those issues are resolved, getting to work on what the corps and the EPD have approved,” Tallant said.

But Ulseth said his organization is not satisfied.

“We weren’t really offered any input in the entire process and we weren’t confident that it was going in the direction we wanted it to,” he said.

City Administrator Gerald Blackburn said he hopes the city and at least the two state agencies could reach an agreement this month.

“If we can get all the concerns with the corps and the EPD resolved over the next two to three weeks so that we can get the project started, we will still have quite a bit of time over the summer that we can work on the project,” he said.

“We just want to get moving on it as quickly as we can and get all parties satisfied and moving forward.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at