To date, the citizens of Forsyth County have paid attorney’s fees of $477,000 to defend the county over the discharge permit for the Fowler Shakerag Wastewater Plant issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD).
On June 1, 2011, an administrative law judge ruled against Forsyth County and the Environment Protection Division’s permit for wastewater discharge into the Chattahoochee.
On Sept. 30, 2011, a Superior Court Judge in Forsyth County reversed the decision and allowed the permit to stand. In retaliation, The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper nonprofit has filed an Application for Discretionary Appeal insisting the June 1, 2011, permit ban and subsequent stiffer standards be upheld.
Dr. Elizabeth Booth at the GEPD performs the modeling to set the limitations for all wastewater plants in Georgia. The Fowler/Shakerag plant was granted a permit with two limitations on affluent discharges — fecal coliform bacteria 200 cfu/100 ml and phosphorus 0.3 mg/l. This is the same standard in which many publically owned wastewater treatment plants are limited across the nation.
Dr. Booth told me; “The Fowler/Shakerag plant is capable of meeting the stricter bacteria standards, so it is a non-issue. However, the phosphorus reduction presents an expensive problem for Forsyth County.” According to Dr. Booth, “the originally approved limitation of 0.3 mg/l is non-measurable. It’s insignificant to the Chattahoochee River.”
The model looked at water samples down the river to include the impact to West Point Lake for potential algae blooms.
The UCR action is causing the citizens of Forsyth County to bear the frivolous cost of the legal defense and appeal, as well as potential upgrades to the Fowler/Shakerag facility. The cost of the lawsuit will go beyond $500,000 before the appeal is over and the upgrades to the plant are said to exceed $10 million.
This is nothing more than a good old-fashion shakedown. The lawsuit used a false environmental premise which cost the taxpayers of Forsyth County plenty. If you want to do something about this, call Sally Bethea, Director of UCR, and complain.