Residents Ask Fannin County Water Authority to Intervene

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Three different couples approached the Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) to request that the FCWA intervene with their water service provider Appalachian Water. Deer Crest Overlook and Weaver Creek Mountain Property are connected to two congested wells in the area.

The issue here, is that these wells are only supposed to supply between 10-15 houses and now both wells are connected to over 60 homes—some full-time residents, some rentals, and some seasonal homes. Due to an influx of people residing in the area, around the beginning of July every year the full-time residents lose access to water for five or six days due to the failing of these water sources.

Water is being charged between thirty and forty dollars a month. It’s been said that once someone charges for water, the water must be tested regularly for contaminants and to ensure that the water is drinkable.

Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss asked, “Okay, what we have to know before you guys can do anything is who owns the well, if the people that own the well are the same as the people who own the system, what kind of right-aways you have or don’t have. Do y’all pay somebody monthly?”

All three couples answered, “Yes. We pay Appalachian Water.”

Doss then replied, “Well the question is are you paying for water? Are you paying for water and service? Are you paying for water, service, and maintenance? Because until you have those questions answered we wouldn’t even know if we could start to help you.”

Local resident Bob Flanders responded, “We pay for water. There is no maintenance fee.”

FCWA Vice Chairman Larry Chapman then replied, “My question, too, is that if they have Deer Crest on there now and it’s across the street then, I mean, have they done this legally? Because if they hadn’t contacted Environmental Protection Division (EPD) about this—when you add customers on a small system like this usually the biggest thing is storage. You’ll have a well that’s 20-30 gallons per minute and you have to adjust the storage, it’ll put out the water to treat ‘em but you got to have the storage, so it does it 24 hours a day 7 days a week.”

In the end, the FCWA instructed the residents to contact the health department and EPD so that they can follow the proper channels to getting their water issues fixed. FCWA explained that they cannot get involved unless they are instructed to do so.

Well Water Testing

Outdoors

Well Water Testing

By:  Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

For the most part, north Georgia did not see extreme flooding as a result of hurricane Irma as did other areas of the state, but it does bring to mind the importance of well safety. Wells that were overtopped by flood waters need to be flushed and tested for bacteria because of the potential danger of contaminants being washed into the well. UGA Extension Water Resource Management and Policy Specialist Gary Hawkins recommends pumping and flushing a minimum of 2 or 3 times the well volume to clear the system. This water should be discarded from an outside faucet and not from an inside faucet to bypass the home’s septic tank. After pumping the water, the well should be shock chlorinated then the well should be flushed again until there is no smell of chlorine bleach and, like before, the flushing step should be done through an outdoor faucet to bypass the septic system. This highly chlorinated water, if discharged to the septic tank, could cause problems with the bacterial colonies in the septic tank.

After the well is shock-chlorinated, flushed and the chlorine smell is gone (about two weeks), the well water should be tested for bacteria. Families can get their well water tested using their local county UGA Extension office.  Until the test for bacteria comes back, Hawkins strongly suggests that water for cooking or drinking be boiled before consumption. If the well contains bacteria the report will explain how to treat the well.

To calculate the volume of water that should be pumped from a well, use the following calculation.  Most of the well casings in this area are 6 inches so the factor for that size is 1.47.  That means that there are 1.47 gallons of water for every foot in depth.  Multiply the depth of water in the well by this factor to determine how much water is in the well. If your casing is not 6 inches, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office and we can get the right factor.

There are several methods to determine how much water you have flushed out, but the one that I use is to calculate how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket.  Divide that time by 5 to get the output per minute.  Using this figure you can determine how many minutes you need to run the water to flush the number of gallons of water that was determined in the previous calculation. A couple of methods can be used to determine the depth of water in a well. If you can see the water in the well, lower a heavy object tied to a string down the well and measure the length of the string until you see the object touch the water. In a deep well, lower a heavy object like above until you hear the object hit the water and measure the length of string. If you cannot see the object hit the water, another way (but less accurate) is to drop a small stone into the well and count or time the seconds it takes for the stone to hit the water (you will have to listen closely for this.) Multiply the number of seconds by 32.2 and that will let you know how far the water is below the surface. Knowing the depth of the well and the depth from surface, subtract the two to get the height of the water column for calculating the volume of water in the well.

An example of this calculation is if you have a well that is 300 feet deep and the water level is 25 feet from the surface, subtracting 25 from 300 equals 275 which means you have 275 feet of water in the well.  Multiply 275 by 1.47 to get the gallons in the well.  That figure is 404.25 gallons.  Using a factor of 3 pints per 100 gallons, you would need to apply a little over 12 pints of chlorine bleach in the well.

If you have any questions about this process or for more information on well water testing, contact me at the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

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GEORGIA TRACKING PROJECT ADDS MANATEES, GAINS INSIGHTS

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GEORGIA TRACKING PROJECT ADDS MANATEES, GAINS INSIGHTS

ST. MARYS, Ga. (June 15, 2017) – A new infusion of tagged manatees will help scientists better understand how the gentle giants use coastal Georgia waters, especially near Kings Bay submarine base.

In the project led by Sea to Shore Alliance, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Aquarium, eight manatees were recently caught, fitted with GPS transmitters and returned to Cumberland Sound. Two of the 13 manatees tracked the past two summers are also still transmitting.

The goal is to map the protected species’ movements near Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, document migratory paths and habitat use in the region, and collect baseline data to help assess manatee health.

Although researchers are dealing with expected challenges, such as some manatees quickly shedding the satellite tracking devices that look like miniature buoys, they are also reaping needed insights into the mammals reclassified from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act last year.

The highly accurate GPS data have shown that manatees regularly venture into the submarine base, they’re able to find artificial freshwater sources to drink from, and a few have traveled into the open Atlantic. Biologists are also confirming things they long suspected but had no way to prove, such as the importance of the Intracoastal Waterway, or ICW – a narrow passage of natural and dredged rivers between the mainland and barrier islands – for manatees moving along the Georgia coast.

“The Intracoastal Waterway is like a manatee highway,” DNR wildlife biologist Clay George said. “But the ICW is also a primary passageway for boats moving up and down the coast, so this behavior may place manatees at added risk of boat strikes.”

Of the 13 manatees tagged previously, only three have traveled the length of the Georgia coast. “We’re hoping some of the new batch will migrate up the coast toward Savannah, or even South Carolina,” George said. So far, most of the manatees have spent the winter months in Brevard County in east-central Florida, although one migrated more than 500 miles and wintered in Fort Lauderdale.

Understanding habitat use and migration details can benefit manatee conservation efforts, according to Monica Ross of Sea to Shore Alliance.

“We know manatees need warm water to survive,” said Ross, a research scientist with the nonprofit focused on conserving coastal environments and species. “Unfortunately, several manatees are rescued or die from cold stress outside of Florida each year. Through this study, we are gaining a better insight into when manatees make their migration south.”

Most of the tracked manatees have returned to Florida in late summer, long before water temperatures begin to decline, Ross said. “Yet a few individuals wait until a trigger temperature to make the migration, stopping off at manmade warm-water sites that are not always in operation. This is when a late migration can be critically detrimental.”

Manatees migrate from Florida to Georgia in spring, drawn by abundant marsh grass and other aquatic vegetation. They occur in tidal waters throughout coastal Georgia from at least April through October. Yet shorter winters and warming waters have widened that window. Manatees were reported at Kings Bay this February.

Weighing more than a half-ton, these slow-moving animals swim just below the surface, often putting them in harm’s way of boats. Since 2000, boat collisions have caused 27 percent of manatee mortalities documented in Georgia, highlighting the need to better understand manatee movements in the state.

Staff from wildlife agencies and organizations in Georgia and Florida netted the eight manatees in Cumberland Sound May 31-June 2. With a DNR helicopter helping spot the animals, a custom manatee capture boat from Clearwater Marine Aquarium was used to encircle them with a net. They were then pulled onto the boat or a bank to tag and examine. Biologists and veterinary staff, led by veterinarians from Georgia Aquarium and the University of Florida, examined the six male and two female manatees caught, took samples, fitted each animal with a transmitter and released all unharmed.

Ross monitors the manatees daily online, and along with DNR staff, regularly checks them on the water.

“At least every two weeks, we’ll physically locate each animal, to see what they are doing, check the equipment and take the opportunity to photo ID other animals they might be with,” Ross said. “If at any point the tag activity is abnormal, we will get eyes on the animals immediately.

“This year we are exceptionally excited to have two females to monitor, the first two captured for this study. Females use habitat differently than males, so it will be exciting to gather their movement data.”

Each transmitter, tethered to a belt that fits around the small area of the body near the tail, floats at the surface behind the manatee. The device does not impede movement or pose a risk of entanglement. The belt, the tether linked to the transmitter and the tag itself are each designed to part easily.

Georgia Aquarium is directing the health assessment studies, which are patterned after the Aquarium’s long-standing bottlenose dolphin Health and Environmental Risk Assessment research in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. “We are continuing to generate important health data from manatees in Georgia that help us better understand these unique animals,” said Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president and chief veterinary officer at Georgia Aquarium. “This information tells us not only about manatee health but also provides important new clues about the health of the environment and potentially the impacts on overall human health.”

Aquarium staff from the animal health and conservation departments, including Georgia Aquarium’s Conservation Field Station in Florida, took part in the captures. Staff from the National Park Service, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Coast Guard, National Marine Mammal Foundation, Science Applications International Corp., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also helped.

As of this week, seven of the manatees were still within 10 miles of their capture site, near Cumberland Island and Florida’s Amelia Island. One had ventured north to the Brunswick area. Of the two manatees still tagged from 2016, one was near Richmond Hill and the other was in the Charleston, S.C., area.

Project funding has been provided by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Aquarium, Georgia Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund, The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN (friends group of DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section) and Sea to Shore Alliance.

Learn more online about DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section (www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation<http://www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation>), Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay (www.navy.mil/local/subasekb<http://www.navy.mil/local/subasekb>), Georgia Aquarium (www.georgiaaquarium.org<http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/>) and Sea to Shore Alliance (www.sea2shore.org<http://www.sea2shore.org>).

IF YOU SEE A TAGGED MANATEE

Report the manatee to Georgia DNR by calling 1-800-2-SAVE-ME (800-272-8363). Note the time, date, location, color of the tag and whether any other manatees are present. Do not chase, touch or otherwise harass the manatee, or touch the tag. The tag is harmless to the animal.

For more:

*  Boaters urged to watch out for manatees, www.georgiawildlife.com/node/4368<http://www.georgiawildlife.com/node/4368>

* Manatees and other rare wildlife in Georgia, www.georgiawildlife.com/rare_species_profiles<http://www.georgiawildlife.com/rare_species_profiles>

* Help conserve Georgia’s nongame wildlife, www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/support<http://www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/support>
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Public Health Notice: DO NOT DRINK WATER FROM FLOODED WELLS OR SPRINGS

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Public Health Notice: DO NOT DRINK WATER FROM FLOODED WELLS OR SPRINGS

North Georgia – Due to recent weather conditions, any well or spring that has been covered with flood waters must be considered contaminated. Do not drink the water until after flood waters have receded, the well or spring has been disinfected with household bleach and the water has been laboratory tested. Contact the local county Environmental Health Office for questions and further instructions, if needed.

 

Shock Chlorination

 

Disinfecting a Well

Well disinfection is necessary if the well or spring was covered with flood waters. Before chlorinating, it is important to check the integrity of the well or spring water source to prevent future contamination. Well construction must prevent entry of surface water, debris, insects and animals. The well casing and concrete slab should be sealed and the well cap or sanitary seal must be secure. Springs should be in a sealed spring house.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Thoroughly clean all accessible outside surfaces removing any loose debris and mud around the well or spring. Then, wash the well area with a strong chlorine solution (1 quart of household bleach per 5 gallon of water).

 

  1. Determine the amount of water in the well. Calculate the amount of bleach chlorine needed. DO NOT USE SCENTED BLEACHES. Health officials recommend using the normal strength household bleach, which is 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite.

 

  1. Remove the well cap or place a funnel into the small vent pipe of the well cap. Use the table below and add the appropriate amount of bleach. A minimum of 50 ppm chlorine solution is required:
WATER

DEPTH

(FEET)

    WELL DIAMETER    
2” 4” 6” 8” 24” 36”
20’ 3 pints 3 pints ½ gal. ½ gal. 2 gal. 3 gal.
40’ 3 pints 3 pints ½ gal. ¾ gal.
80’ 3 pints ½ gal. ½ gal. ¾ gal.
100’ 3 pints ½ gal. ¾ gal. 1 gal.

 

If depth and diameter are unknown, 1 gallon of bleach can be used. Extra bleach does not necessarily mean extra disinfection and can be a health hazard in itself.

 

DO NOT DRINK OR PREPARE FOODS WITH WATER WHILE BLEACH IS IN THE WATER SYSTEM!

  1. Run water from an outside faucet through a hose until a strong chlorine odor can be detected. Place the end of the hose in the well allowing the water to run down the sides of the casing and circulate for at least 15 minutes. Replace the well cap.

 

  1. Turn off the hose and enter the home opening each tap, one at a time, until the smell of chlorine can be detected. Please include hot water faucets, toilets, bathtubs, washing machine, etc.

 

  1. Once the chlorine odor reaches all outlets, let the water system stand for 8 hours, preferably overnight. Refrain from any water use during this time.

 

  1. Flush the system of chlorine by turning on an outside faucet letting it run until the chlorine odor dissipates. Finally, run indoor faucets until the water is clear and the chlorine odor is gone. Do not run any unnecessary water into the septic system or allow the chlorinated water to drain directly into a stream or pond. Continue this process until the odor of bleach is completely gone.

 

  1. The water should be laboratory tested to determine if it is safe to drink. It is recommended that over the next several weeks two additional samples be taken to be sure results are satisfactory. Repeated chlorination and/or a well professional should be called if problems remain.

 

  1. If not sure how to disinfect a well or spring, how to take a well sample or how to get laboratory results, contact the local county Environmental Health Office.

 

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____________________

 

Written by Raymond King, Director of Environmental Health, North Georgia Health District 1-2

____________________

 

For direct access to this Public Health Notice on our website, log onto  http://nghd.org/pr/34-/741-public-health-notice-do-not-drink-water-from-flooded-wells-or-springs.html

 

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Southeast Connections uses Gilmer County as Dumping Ground

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Southeast Connections (“SEC”), a contractor for Atlanta Gas Light, has been using 94 Moore Lane in Gilmer County as a slurry dumping ground for an undetermined amount of time. Gilmer tax records currently shows 94 Moore Lane being owned by James Moore. Sources tell FYN that James Moore deeded the property to his son Jonathan Moore and it has yet to show up on the tax record.  Jonathan is employed by Southeast Connections and drives the slurry pump truck.

After receiving complaints of suspicious dumping, James Holloway, Gilmer County Code Enforcement Officer, visited the site. Holloway’s visit confirmed that slurry was being dumped on an unapproved site.  Holloway immediately issued a stop work order notice to Atlanta Gas Light and Southeast Connection for the natural gas line project currently underway on highway 282.  He then notified Georgia Environmental Protection Division.  Friday, December 11th, Holloway sent a notice of violation from Gilmer County Code Enforcement to Atlanta Gas Light, James Moore, and Southeast Connections.

 

Holloway tells FYN that a preconstruction meeting was held at the Gilmer County Code Enforcement office approximately three weeks ago.  According to Holloway he made it clear to SEC during the meeting that the slurry from the Hwy 282 gas line project had to be dumped at an approved site.  SEC is now taking the slurry from the Hwy 282 gas line cleanup to an approved site in Cartersville, GA.

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The slurry has been running into a tributary in Gilmer County for an undetermined amount of time.  (A tributary is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or river main stream.)  This tributary runs into a trout stream, Running Town Creek.  The creek runs beside old Hwy 5 behind Bryan’s store.

 

Friday SEC started clean up efforts. It brought in several backhoe tractors, dump trucks and pump trucks-millions of dollars of equipment. They brought a crew of 50 employees to work the clean up effort.  Non stop truck loads of gravel, stone and hay were delivered to the site. SEC told Holloway that they would maintain these efforts through the weekend.

 

FYN visited the site Friday and witnessed the dump area before Mr. Moore told me I was on private property and asked me to leave.  We were able to see the beginning clean up efforts.  I visited the site again Saturday morning.  SEC had trucks using a pump to remove the slurry and muddy water. They are taking it to the only known approved site in the area, Yellowstone in Cartersville.  They built rock dams in several areas to slow the flow of slurry.  Holloway was on site documenting the clean up.  Holloway told us he was taking pictures of every phase of the clean up.  He said he would be doing a second site visit later Saturday and would return on Sunday to continue to follow the clean up effort. Rain is expected Monday and could slow the clean up.  

 

Holloway told FYN that EPD would be in Gilmer County Monday morning to begin their investigation and will visit the site.  Later in the afternoon a meeting is scheduled at the Gilmer County Code Enforcement office.  We understand that Atlanta Gas Light, SEC, EPD and Gilmer Code Enforcement Officer James Holloway will be attending the meeting.  Sources tell FYN that the County attorney, David Clark, may be in attendance.

 

Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division was also contacted.  Holloway told FYN that he took Sgt. John Vanlandingham to the dump site Friday evening.  Sgt. Vanlandingham meet with Jonathan Moore.  Vanlandingham told Holloway that he would be following up Monday. It’s unknown if DNR will be attending the meeting Monday.  Holloway said that he has been told that the District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee has been briefed of the situation.  

 

FYN spoke to SEC Safety Director Keith Plemons.  We asked Plemons what product was used in the drilling process that created the yellow color in the slurry? He would not tell us and added that SEC would present the name of the product to EPA at the meeting Monday.  We asked if Moore was an SEC employee and drove the slurry pump truck for the company, he confirmed this but was not able to remember how long Moore has been with the company.  We asked if Moore was still employed with SEC to which he said “yes” but that was under deliberation at this time.  We asked, who is Moore’s SEC direct supervisor, he told us, “Paul Preston.”  We asked if the only slurry dumped was from the Hwy 282 gas line project, he said “as far as we know” but that was being looked into.  We asked if the product was a petroleum based product, he answered “no it was not.”

 

We have sent Plemons a question asking if SEC is currently working on the Dalton Gas Line Expansion project.  We have not received an answer.

 

Sources tell FYN that Moore has worked for SEC for approximately a year and has driven the slurry pump truck home the entire time and Source suspects that he has been dumping on the property for quite some time.  FYN was told that before Moore worked for SEC he worked for another company where he drove a pump truck that he brought home after work.

 

We received the following comment from Gilmer County Commission Chair Charlie Paris concerning the unpermitted dumping,

“The discovery of a sludge dumping site in Gilmer County is a great disappointment. That anyone could deliberately damage the beauty, the natural resources, and the environment of our county is beyond comprehension for me.  I want to assure our citizens that we will not rest until the area is returned to its natural state. Our chief environmental enforcement officer, James Holloway, has been on site full time since his discovery of the site last week, including working all weekend to monitor the cleanup. This will continue to be his absolute top priority. James has issued a Stop Work Order that will prevent any further construction until this situation is resolved. He will work with officials from EPD and, if necessary, EPA to ensure that all corrective actions are taken and to send the message very clearly that Gilmer County will not tolerate the destruction of our environment or quality of life. I want to commend Atlanta Gas Light Company and their contractor, SEC, for accepting responsibility and stepping up to do what is necessary to make this right. Although this will be a very expensive cleanup, there should be no cost to the taxpayers of Gilmer County.”

 

Hopefully many questions will be answered in the coming week. It is very expensive to dump at an approved site so did SEC not realize they were saving a large sum in dump fees?  Could just two weeks of slurry from the Hwy 282 project create the amount seen in the pictures or has slurry from other job sites outside the county been dumped on the property?  How many from SEC were aware Moore was not taking the slurry to the approved dump site?  If SEC was aware that they had to use an approved site is this not illegal dumping?  Was Moore gaining financially from dumping on his own property, and, if so, who all knew about it?  If the solution used to create the slurry is non toxic or not an environmental hazard then why require an approved dump site?  Why not just consider it fill dirt?  How many loads did Moore dump?   

 

Maybe between  EPD, DNR, Gilmer Code Enforcement and the District Attorney, citizens of Gilmer County can get answers to these questions.  FYN will follow up Monday with Gilmer County Code Enforcement.

 

Although SEC seems to be working hard in this cleanup effort spending what would appear to be hundreds of thousands of dollars, if they hadn’t dumped the slurry in Gilmer County in the first place, they wouldn’t have had to spend this money.  Fifty men working the weekend 2 weeks before Christmas!   What will be the total cost of this clean up total?

See Related Story:  Possible 2 Million Environmental Disaster in Gilmer County

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