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Sludge application stalls
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An application that would allow a 65-acre sludge sprayfield less one mile from the Premium Outlet Mall is unlikely to see any forward motion.

"I have no plans of revising any sludge management plans that would allow sludge on that particular site," said Judd Turner, director, Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources on Monday. "We haven't heard from Mr. Curren in months, and if we did, as a matter of due diligence, we'd have to look at it, but I think it's unlikely."

In July 2012, Ken Curren of Waterscape Services, LLC, applied for a permit from the state Environmental Protection Agency to spread partially treated human waste in an area zoned for a residential planned community on Harry Sosebee Road at Lumpkin Campground Road.

Although counties and cities across Georgia cannot overrule state regulations or the EPD on matters of sludge disposal, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance last September banning the application of "Class B biosolids" within its borders.

During the board's September 2012 voting session, Planning and Development Director David McKee noted that less than 10 percent of the property met the EPD's own guidelines for sludge disposal.

Additionally, upset residents gathered more than 3,500 signatures on a petition distributed by the Dawson County Homeowners and Civic Association that opposed the permit. Jane Graves, the group's president, and several members considered taking legal action.

The opposition lit up Internet sites and led to Graves' being interviewed by a major TV network.

Concerns ranged from potential pathogens leaching into ground water supplies to a drop in sales tax revenues and property values.

County Commission Chair Mike Berg said while the board cannot stop sludge from being deposited in Dawson County, it can limit it to certain areas.

"As our population grows, sludge issues aren't going away; however, they should be limited to heavy industrial, commercial locations," he said. "We have to find reasonable ways of dealing with it. I would encourage our legislators to seek ways of doing that in the next legislative session."

Graves isn't resting easy just yet.

"All counties are terrified of sludge lobbyists because they are a powerful group," she said. "The only danger with the heavy commercial areas is, remember that when they annex property, it can be rezoned. We aren't done. We want to keep Dawson a nice place to live."