Nearly two dozen Dawson County residents were at a public meeting Monday to find out how a developer's wastewater proposal could affect their homes and families.
Waterscape Services is considering spreading stabilized sewage sludge from the Hampton Creek Water Reclamation Facility in Forsyth County onto property owned by Rotag Partners LLC at the northwest corner of Harry Sosebee and Lumpkin Campground roads in southern Dawson County.
Ken Curren, the registered agent for both Waterscape Services and Rotag Partners, filed a sludge management plan in January with the state Environmental Protection Division that proposes to amend the reclamation facility's permit to allow sludge application on about 60 acres in Dawson County.
Curren said EPD representatives visited the site in April. During Monday's meeting, he distributed copies of the sludge management plan to attendees.
"I'm here to tell you about the project and answer any questions that I can," he told the crowd gathered at the Hampton Golf Course clubhouse.
Questions for Curren ranged from the odor to health issues resulting from depositing liquid sludge that could potentially seep into water supplies. Neighbors in opposition also said their property values would be affected.
"We don't want this near our property," said Laura Jones, who lives nearby on Heard Drive.
Curren's proposal calls for applying 50 dry tons of Class B biosolids annually to 35 acres on a 160-acre tract that was initially zoned for a residential subdivision but was never developed due to the economic downturn.
"There are no plans to develop it anytime in the near future," he said.
He also added the 35 acres is half a mile from the road and is surrounded by a tree buffer.
"There are no homes within 500 feet of the property line and only five that are within 1,000 feet, and one is a chicken house," he said. "I'm surprised this many people showed up to the public meeting."
Citing "beneficial reuse," Curren said land application is a viable alternative to sludge disposal and the Dawson County property is the closest applicable property for the application. There would also be a savings to haul the sludge, which currently is taken about 40 miles away to a landfill, compared to the four-mile hauling cost to the proposed site.
Brad Hansard, who purchased property on Harry Sosebee Road about five years ago, attended the meeting with his brother and sister-in-law, Chase and Katy Hansard, who also live near the proposed site.
Following Curren's presentation and a trip to the Hampton plant to see the sewage treatment process, Brad Hansard said he still had reservations, but was "not one to fight something."
"It makes me think about what we may do in the future. We chose Dawson County because we think it's a good place to live and raise our children," Hansard said. "It is a good place to live."
The Hampton plant serves about 1,000 homes in five residential subdivisions in Forsyth County. It serves no homes in Dawson County.
According to Curren, his next step is to present the EPD with proof he held the public meeting, along with a list of names in attendance.
A public hearing would be held once the EPD drafts a new permit for the plant. At that time, the division would take comments from the public for 30 days.
"I encourage you to make your comments. If this is the right thing to do, then it will be permitted. If it isn't, it won't be," Curren said.