Jefferson County's Chamber of Commerce is opposing a plan by a local farmer to spread his fields with sludge from Columbia County's wastewater treatment plants.
In an emergency meeting Aug. 29, chamber members criticized Richard Hudson's application for a permit to use biosolids on his Horseshoe Road farm.
"The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce opposes any Columbia County proposal to dump sludge in Jefferson County," Chamber President Brad Day read in a statement. "Sludge-dumping hurts Jefferson County citizens, businesses and natural surroundings. The Chamber Board of Directors urges the Jefferson and Columbia boards of commissioners to oppose these dumping plans.
"The Chamber of Commerce encourages the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners to take the necessary legal steps to stop sludge from coming into Jefferson County."
Day later said the opposition was only to sludge brought in from outside Jefferson County and said the chamber's position included sludge already being land-applied in the county.
Columbia County, which is disposing of sludge from its wastewater plants at the landfill, is looking into ways to dispose of the sludge after the landfill closes.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Day said the chamber's intention was simply to go on-record as opposing the use of sludge on county land.
"The chamber of commerce sees itself as one of the partners in protecting the reputation of the community," Day later told Jefferson County commissioners. "Business drives the economy here, and the chamber of commerce doesn't think that another county ought to be bringing its sludge in here, particularly Columbia County."
Hudson, co-owner of Hudson Grassing Co., said his company intends to apply biosolids from Columbia County's wastewater treatment plants as fertilizer on grass fields.
At issue is the sludge from the Reed Creek, Crawford Creek and Little River wastewater treatment plants in Columbia County. To apply sludge on land in Jefferson County, Columbia County must obtain a permit from Georgia's Environmental Protection Division.
In a letter to commissioners, Hudson said he had a problem with Day asserting that sludge hurts county residents, businesses and natural surroundings since there is no scientific proof for the claim. He added that his business contributes significantly to the local economy, including spending about $160,000 annually with local businesses, the purchase of $1.2 million in equipment from farm equipment dealers and the investment of more the $1.5 million in property.
"The land application issue seems to be a sensitive issue with a few citizens of Jefferson County, but it is a legal, regulated process that occurs everyday all over the United States," Hudson's letter stated. "As I said earlier, I have no problem with opposition from citizens and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, as long as they respect my right to conduct legal land application of biosolids in accordance with EPA regulations on my property.
"I came to Jefferson County to stay and to support this community, not to be a hindrance or a detriment."
A public meeting on the application of sludge to the Horseshoe Road property will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 at the courthouse in Louisville, Ga.
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