Twiggs landowner says sewage polluting property

The owners of a Twiggs County hunting plantation have filed a federal civil lawsuit against the city of Jeffersonville, alleging stormwater run-off from a wastewater treatment facility has the potential to threaten birds and hunting dogs on their land.

Duggan Family Partnership LLP alleges the city is in violation of the federal Clean Water Act because pollutants from the wastewater treatment plant have contaminated water on the plantation, the Ocmulgee River, Palmetto Creek and Turkey Creek, according to the lawsuit filed Monday.

The wastewater treatment plant is located about a half mile outside the Jeffersonville city limits on Ga. 96, said Jeffersonville Mayor Sonja Mallory. Court records show the plantation, which offers “organized bird hunts to customers” is located immediately adjacent to the plant on the east, west and south.

Charles Duggan, a spokesman for Duggan Family Partnership LLP, declined to comment Wednesday, citing pending litigation.

The lawsuit alleges the wastewater facility isn’t functioning properly and storm water run-off — contaminated with microorganisms, chemicals and suspended solids — is damaging the plantation.

Three tests performed in 2007 and 2008 on run-off from the wastewater plant after it had reached the plantation show the land had been contaminated by sewage, according to the lawsuit.

Mallory said Jeffersonville regularly tests the areas surrounding the plant and the holding ponds themselves and hasn’t found any problems.

“It’s absolutely untrue,” she said of the allegations.

The Environmental Protection Division hasn’t found any evidence that the run-off is a result of the land application method of treating sewage, said Bill Noell, a manager in the EPD’s permitting, compliance and enforcement program.

Run-off as a result of land application would be a violation, but run-off due to rain isn’t covered by the Clean Water Act.

Noell explained wastewater is treated in a series of ponds before being pumped out of a storage pond to sprinklers that distribute the water over land, allowing the water to be filtered through the soil and return to the groundwater supply.

Duggan Family Partnership LLP filed a similar lawsuit against Jeffersonville on Sept. 19, 2008, but the case was dismissed because a letter providing notice to the city before filing the lawsuit was inadequate, according to court records.

The partnership is seeking punitive damages and attorney’s fees as a result of the lawsuit, according to court records.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.