State and city officials say a local poultry packaging plant likely is to blame for excessive wastewater discharge in the sewer system.
The city has been fined more than $8,400 by Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division since 2006.
The most recent violation was on Sept. 6, when incoming wastewater at the municipal treatment facility exceeded permitted amounts.
Stan Donehoo, an environmental specialist with the EPD, said last week that the discharge from Gold Creek Foods on Hwy. 9 North is most likely the cause.
“There’s no other industry in the city,” he said. “The only other reason could be from grease traps, but there aren’t enough restaurants in the area to cause these problems.”
The city continues to pass the fines, which have ranged from $125 to $1,300, to the poultry plant.
The company is required to treat its wastewater to a certain degree before it is released back to the city’s facility.
Dawsonville has received six fines in the last year for excessive amounts of discharged wastewater in the system.
“The city is convinced it’s from Gold Creek [Foods],” Donehoo said.
Management at the poultry plant could not be reached for comment.
But Mayor Joe Lane Cox said plant officials have not disputed the claim.
“They pay the fines,” he said.
Still, Cox said he doesn’t want to see the city fined by EPD for problems caused by Gold Creek Foods.
In June, the city council approved an ordinance that allows Dawsonville to access surcharges for high strength wastewater above a monthly average concentrate.
“Because they didn’t meet what they are supposed to meet with us, we’re adding a surcharge of $565 to the $500 fine we received in September,” Cox said.
The charge would cover the additional cost the city incurs to maintain and operate its wastewater facilities due to the excess.
“We’ve got a good sewer system,” Cox said. “We don’t want anything to happen to it.”
Gold Creek Foods has taken steps to correct the problems, according to Donehoo.
The plant, which takes chicken processed at larger operations and prepares it for smaller packaging, began upgrading its pretreatment facility in 2007 to standards that can manage a higher level of water use.
A new treatment plant at the facility “is working better, but there are still some problems,” he said.
Donehoo has drafted a pretreatment permit that places additional limits on Gold Creek Foods solids discharged into the city’s wastewater system.
Citing potential litigation, the city council discussed the issue in a closed meeting Sept. 13.
Councilman Mike Sosebee, whose son Mark Sosebee owns Gold Creek Foods, recused himself from the talks.