Sen. Steve Gooch opened his talk at the Tea Party meeting Aug. 14 by referring to two words that he heard from his preacher "which seemed to speak directly to" him in church the prior Sunday - "Stewardship and Responsibility."
Perhaps we need to get hold of that sermon and share it with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, or EPD, and all our state legislators, to help them understand the role they play in the lives of those they were appointed to "protect" or those they were elected to represent.
The EPD, as the regulatory body, is currently able to permit sludge fields just 300 feet from a home, or subdivision and within a mile of where 15 percent of our county's population lives.
Dawson County may have some good technical arguments to rebut the granting of this particular EPD sludge permit on TMP 107 013, but there is no guarantee that this will be the last we hear of sewer sludge spreading.
Any tract of land with slopes less than 3-5 percent is a good candidate, and any rural county can be a target. With land values at an all time low it is not unreasonable to suppose that the sludge industry could take advantage of this.
Worse still, if this permit is granted, Dawson County will be the first in our region to go on the map as a "fecophile" or sludge accepting county and the ability to stop further "surface sludging" will be moot.
It is our elected state legislators who can amend the law and make changes to these regulations. It is our state legislators who can amend the provisions of the Dillon Rule which allows the preemption of state law over local ordinances. (I'm guessing Judge [John Forrest] Dillon, if he were alive today, wouldn't want sewer sludge surface spread 300 feet from his home.)
The Dawson County Homeowners and Civic Association has collected well over 1,000 petition signatures to date and the number is growing daily with our Web site petition www.dawsoncountyhomeowners.org.
We hope that this amplifies the message to our state legislators to be good stewards, taking responsibility for the safety and well-being of the electorate who put them into office, rather than surrendering to the interests of sludge industry lobbyists.
I strongly recommend that residents, businesses and other civic organizations pick up their pens, click their keyboards, or make a call with this message (in your own words) to your state legislators ... and accept no excuses.
Letters to EPD make you an interested party that they must respond to and keep you informed.
President, Dawson County Homeowners and Civic Association