The city was fined $12,000 this year by the EPD for sewer leaks at two city residences.
Edgewood Circle resident David Whaley, who filed a complaint with the EPD in January, told the Fort Oglethorpe City Council Aug. 11 there is still standing sewage in his backyard, and he wants the city to fix the problem now. The city was also fined for sewer overflow violations behind a residence at 259 Beaver Road.
Whaley said that nearly two years have passed since he asked the city to remove a manhole from his property that is overflowing with sewage. He said a number of city officials pledged that the manhole would be removed and located elsewhere.
“We’ve been promised this for two years,” Whaley said. “Do you have to get things in writing from all city officials? Who are you going to believe?”
The council voted 4-1, with Jane Moye dissenting, to leave the manhole where it is.
According to engineers ARCADIS Geraghty & Miller, relocating the manhole would cost the city approximately $21,000.
City Manager Paul Page and Councilman Ronnie Cobb denied making any promises to Whaley.
Cobb said he inspected the property last year, and found the standing sewage is leaking from other pipes in addition to those in the manhole. He said sewer renovations currently underway at Edgewood Circle will correct the problem without moving the manhole.
“The project we’re working on now is going to fix this problem,” Cobb said. “We’re spending $631,000 on sewer work in that area. I don’t want to be the one to break the news to the taxpayer that that’s not enough.”
Whaley said city work crews have already been to his home several times to clean up the sewage overflow. Sewer leaks have caused health problems and aggravation to several Edgewood Circle residents, he said.
Whaley told the council his grandson, who is confined to a wheelchair because of a debilitating disease, even became mired in the sewage, and he and his 300 lb. motorized wheelchair had to be pulled out of the muck.
The $12,000 EPD fine was reduced to $6,000 in July after Page presented plans to the EPD for city sewer projects currently under construction.
The council voted unanimously to allow Page to negotiate with EPD officials on the city’s behalf to further reduce the sewer fine at an upcoming meeting in Cartersville, Ga.
Councilman Harold Silcox said the solution to Whaley’s plight is coming.
“This was one of those gut-wrenching votes, but this problem is going to be solved,” he said