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County hopes to clamp down on runoff
New ordinance focuses on pollutants, illegal connects
The new ordinance aims to control what goes into sewers and, eventually, waterways. - photo by Photo provided.

A new chapter will be added to the Liberty County Code of Ordinances — Illicit Discharges and Illegal Connections.

County engineer Trent Long told Liberty County Board of Commissioners during their meeting June 18 that the purpose of the new ordinance is to control pollutants to the storm-water system, prohibit illicit discharges and illegal connection to the system. The ordinance also is designed to prevent non-stormwater discharges, which result from spills or inappropriate dumping, to the storm-water system.

“We also added legal authority to go in, take action and investigate what’s going on,” Long said.

Examples of illicit discharges are septic tank waste, spills on roads and improper disposal of automobile and household toxic substances, such as motor oil. Some exceptions include lawn watering, condensation from air-conditioning units, non-commercial washing of vehicles, discharges from firefighting, and water-line flushing performed by a government agency.

Long said there is a series of processes to address violations of the ordinance.

“We do have to give a notice of violation. Then we give them a certain amount of time to stop the discharge and remedy the connection,” he said.

According to the ordinance, any person who receives a notice has the option to appeal to the county. If the violation hasn’t been corrected after a certain amount of time, county officials can enter the individual’s property and do whatever is necessary to fix the problem.

The property owner would be notified of the cost to stop the violation and can appeal that cost as well. If the alleged violator fails to stop, the county can impose a civil penalty up to $1,000 per day that the violation isn’t remedied. For flagrant and intentional violations, the property owner can be issued a citation to appear in magistrate court. If convicted, the person and can be punished with a fine of up to $1,000, be imprisoned for 60 days or both.

Long said the county’s new ordinance is similar to one in effect in Hinesville.

“What this will do is, all of our municipalities will adopt these ordinances. We’re all affected by this,” Long said. “This gives us a very similar ordinance. It’s continuous whether you are in the city or in the county. We’re already meeting these requirements, so this is nothing new.”

He also discussed the Erosion, Sedimentation and Pollution Control Ordinance, which addresses site waste from construction. A National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, issued by the state Environmental Protection Division, requires for on-site construction management of such things as concrete truck washouts, chemicals used during construction, litter and sanitary waste.

“We’re already doing a lot of these things; it’s just formalizing the process,” Long said. “We’re already adding these things to our construction plans that we are presenting and preparing for approval.”

The pollutant discharge permit also requires that the latest Georgia Stormwater Management Manual and applicable parts of the Coastal Stormwater Supplement be adopted into the drainage ordinance. This applies to the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer service areas, which are Hinesville, Walthourville, Allenhurst and Flemington. Long said the supplement helps with water quality in addition to water quantity. The supplement has been used as a guideline but was not formally written into the ordinance.

“Our ordinance right now just counts for quantity, not quality,” he said. “We just regulated how much water we run off. We’re doing some quality; this just gives us the ability to use the Coastal Stormwater Supplement.”

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