Upgrade for a Lowndes County Water Treatment Plant Save Email Print

28 10 2008

John Rogers | WCTV

The North Lowndes Water Treatment Plant disinfects groundwater with chlorine.

Officials say after the chlorine cleans the water, a byproduct is formed, but the Georgia Environmental Protection Division says this plant creates too much of the byproduct.


So on Tuesday, County Commissioners voted to upgrade the facility.

Lowndes Co. Utilities Director Mike Allen says, “Any effect that would have on the citizens would be over many many years and right now, this is going to be treated over the next twelve months.”

The upgraded system will ensure the plant meets state standards.

The project will be paid for with sales tax money and will be completed by December 2009.

Developer fined over buffer laws

28 10 2008


Rob Pavey | The Augusta Chronicle

A Burke County developer will pay fines totaling $50,025 over stream buffer violations at an Ogeechee River subdivision, according to Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division.

In an Oct. 8 consent order, the developer — Brannen & Son Inc. — also agreed to restore vegetation along the river where land-clearing activities at The River Bluff subdivision affected the required 25-foot stream buffer.

A citizen’s Jan. 22 complaint about tree cutting in the buffer zone was referred to EPD, the Georgia Forestry Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers, which ultimately issued a cease-and-desist order over violations of wetlands issues.

The case was complicated because logging had been conducted on the 37-acre site prior to the creation of the subdivision, which includes 29 riverfront lots.

“There were buffer encroachments during the logging, and once they started development, there were other buffer encroachments as well,” said Jeff Darley, the interim district manager of EPD’s East Central District office in Augusta.

Although there are certain exemptions to the buffer laws for timber activities, those exemptions do not apply to other development.

“During logging, if you encroach on a stream buffer, you are subject to a three-year moratorium on development,” he said. “The rule was designed to prevent developers from clearing the buffer through logging and then starting a development in there.”

In a Sept. 3 letter, Charles Brannen told EPD he was not using the timber exemptions to circumvent buffer requirements.

“There was no intent of the developer to exploit the rules. This was the condition the tract was in when purchased.”

Consequently, EPD agreed to waive the three-year moratorium and will allow the subdivision’s progress to continue, Mr. Darley said.

The buffer requirements are designed to protect watersheds from silt and dirt that can wash into rivers and streams if land is disturbed too close to their banks.

Maintaining a vegetative buffer also provides a shaded canopy that prevents excessive warming of the water

Tomato scare costly for Georgia growers

28 10 2008


Sharon Dowdy | UGA | Southeast Farm Press

When it comes to food, perceived danger can be as harmful as a real one, especially to a farmer’s wallet. Georgia tomato growers learned that lesson firsthand when consumers stopped buying fresh tomatoes during this summer’s Salmonella scare linked to fresh tomatoes.

In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a nationwide warning regarding a Salmonella risk on varieties of raw red plum, red Roma and round red tomatoes.

“The disease wasn’t found on Georgia tomatoes, but the general public’s perception was that all tomatoes were affected,” said Archie Flanders, an economist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The scare cost Georgia farmers $13.9 million. Georgia grows about 3,000 acres of tomatoes, worth between $60 million and $80 million annually.

As president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Bill Brim tried to tell consumers through media interviews that Georgia tomatoes were safe. He ate tomatoes straight from his field on television.

“I was interviewed by (all the major Atlanta television media), and I tried my best to persuade people that Georgia tomatoes are safe,” Brim said. “The national news media really put us under by telling people not to eat any tomatoes unless they have the vine attached. What was so sad was that it wasn’t true.”

Georgia growers weren’t the only ones. “Growers in Tennessee, north Florida, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, and of course California, were all hit hard, too,” he said.

Brim grows 80 acres of tomatoes in Tifton, Ga. The summer scare cost him $1.2 million. “This was a very significant loss for small- and large-scale farmers,” he said.

Tomatoes are one of Brim’s most expensive crops to grow. An acre of tomatoes costs him $12,000. Bell pepper costs $8,000 per acre. Squash costs him $2,500 per acre, he said.

To determine the total impact of the scare, Flanders led a survey conducted by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.

Most Georgia tomatoes are grown in nine southwestern counties and one county in northeast Georgia. Farmers there were surveyed by UGA Cooperative Extension agents.

The survey revealed 32 percent of Georgia’s tomato acreage was left in the field due to decreased demand caused by the scare, Flanders said. Another 9 percent was lost to discarded harvested and packed tomatoes due to decreased demand.

Before the scare, Brim’s tomatoes were bringing $19 a box. Three days after the FDA warning, the same tomatoes dropped to $4 a box. A box costs him $8 to grow. That doesn’t include the packing cost.

“All the food chains and grocery chains quit taking them,” he said. “I dumped 30 percent of our crop and left 30 percent in the field. It was heartbreaking… You do an excellent job growing it, and then you don’t have a market to sell it. You just have to leave it to rot.”

Each year, Georgia has two tomato crops, one harvested in summer and one in fall.

Brim is now harvesting 40 acres. Prices are still low.

“I think there are going to be more and more people getting out of the tomato business because the market has just declined,” Brim said. “We just hope the market will turn around and consumers will get the confidence back. I stand behind the fact that Georgia-grown produce is the safest food in the world.”

Nature walk puts spotlight on challenges facing Jekyll Island

28 10 2008

CAROLE HAWKINS, Florida Times-Union

JEKYLL ISLAND – Dorinda Dallmeyer ran her hands along the twisted skeleton of a live oak tree at Jekyll Island’s north beach.  “Here is one of the great love/hate relationships we have on Jekyll Island,” Dallmeyer said. “We hate to think of losing a live oak. But photographers love to take pictures of driftwood, and this is probably one of the biggest pieces you’ll ever see.”

As if agreeing, cameras clicked from among the dozen people who had followed Dallmeyer to the spot.

Nature walks on Jekyll aren’t uncommon, but one led by an ecologist from the University of Georgia certainly is, bringing details into focus that might otherwise pass unnoticed.

Dallmeyer is UGa’s Environmental Ethics Certificate Program director and her field trip was part of a weeklong ecology series on the past, present and future of the Jekyll Island region’s ecosystem. The program was sponsored by the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology, the world’s first standalone ecology school, and held in conjunction with The Georgia Review’s Pulitzer Legacy in Georgia conference.

“It’s an exciting time for us to be here,” said Elisabeth Butler, the school’s director of development. “Jekyll’s revitalization plans give us a chance to talk about how to develop the coastline in the most ecological way possible.”

At the nature walk Wednesday Dallmeyer discussed Jekyll’s salt marshes and beaches as both ecological and commercial resources, but was nonjudgmental over which purpose held greater merit.

Read on here.