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Local control over sludge
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Dawson County citizens know how to get involved in government. An almost two-year effort resulted last week in Gov. Nathan Deal signing House Bill 741, known as the sludge bill, into law when he visited the Dawson County courthouse.

The bill was carried to the House by Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville.

It started with a group of citizens and their commissioners when they realized the local government had no power or control . . . They set out to change that, Tanner said. With the Governor signing this bill into law, local citizens will have input to where sludge is placed in our community.

The new law requires that businesses seeking to dispose of sludge hold public hearings in the county or municipality where the dumping is to take place. Also, areas that receive the sludge must match the provisions laid out in local land use plans.

It was through the hard work of folks like David McKee on the county staff, who was able to do the research and find out the permit (that was applied for) did not meet EPD standards . . . , Tanner said. EPD was made aware of that and the application was denied.

Gov. Deal said he has seen a lot of economic growth which can create issues of sludge disposal.

Im here today to sign a bill related to growth, he said What do you do with waste that is a result of water processing? House Bill 741 simply says the logical thing . . . It is a piece of legislation that ensures local and state jurisdictions have the ability to work together on wastewater treatment and the disposition of sludge going from those plants.

Deal also highlighted Georgias positive, economic growth this year over last.

We saw some huge numbers for March, he said. Our revenue was 12.3 percent higher than the revenue from March last year. For the fiscal year ending in June, we are about 5.4 percent growth over the same period last year.

Our economy is turning around, (we are) seeing jobs coming to our state -- in excess of 235,000 new jobs have been created in the three-and-a-half years Ive been governor. I see that growth continuing in this part of the state, and I think you will continue to benefit from it.

Sen. Steve Gooch, R-51, carried the bill to the Senate.

The bill became law upon Gov. Deals signature on April 23.