Lawyers representing the city of Jeffersonville and the owners of a Twiggs County hunting plantation have drafted a consent order to try to settle a lawsuit alleging that the city violated the federal Clean Water Act.
In the complaint, Duggan Family Partnership alleged that pollutants from the city’s wastewater treatment plant have contaminated water on the plantation, the Ocmulgee River, Palmetto Creek and Turkey Creek, according to the suit, filed in federal court June 8, 2009.
The treatment plant is located about a half-mile outside the Jeffersonville city limits on Ga. 96. Court records show that the hunting plantation, which offers “organized bird hunts to customers,” is located adjacent to the plant on the east, west and south.
The suit alleged that the wastewater facility hasn’t functioned properly and that stormwater runoff — contaminated with microorganisms, chemicals and suspended solids — is damaging the plantation.
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Three tests performed in 2007 and 2008 on runoff from the wastewater plant after it had reached the plantation showed that the land had been contaminated by sewage, according to the suit.
Donald Stack, an attorney representing Jeffersonville, said the consent order made sense for both sides in the suit.
“They have to continue to be neighbors,” he said.
“The question was how to get along on both sides of the fence.”
Ronald Thomason, one of the lawyers representing the hunting plantation owners, said the draft of the consent order is being reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department.
The draft was sent to the federal agencies in January, and responses are due before the end of February.
“We’re awaiting comments and observations,” Stack said.
Although Jeffersonville participated in drafting the consent order through Stack, the city hasn’t admitted any wrongdoing, according to the proposed order.
Jeffersonville Mayor Sonja Mallory said her aim has been to correct the problem while saving taxpayer money wherever possible.
“I’m hoping we can be done with it so we can move on,” Mallory said.
Terms of the consent order would require Jeffersonville to:
n Take “immediate and continuing steps” to address erosion issues;
n Shut off spray heads closest to the hunting plantation property, but the city can still use them as needed to maintain ground cover and prevent future erosion and runoff;
n Take a sample of stormwater runoff on the hunting plantation property adjacent to the property line within 30 days of the consent order becoming effective. The sample must be tested for pH, heavy metals, coliform and other substances;
n Design a new flow for the runoff water and install a series of check dams within 90 days. A hydrology study, a study of how water drains, also must be conducted within 90 days;
n Pay the partnership $10,000.
Failure to meet any of the time deadlines could subject Jeffersonville and its representatives to court sanctions, including contempt, according to the drafted order.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.