He points to a Y in the creek where two water streams merge and says Any Saturday they will be 10 kids playing on that sandbar.
He shows where on his property he has fixed areas for fishing, rough camping or sitting and watching the creek flow by.
Some background about Morris Estates sewerage
The 2004 SPLOST, special-purpose local-option sales tax, included monies for the Peavine basin that Catoosa County Public Works earmarked for the rehabilitation of existing sewers in Morris Estates subdivision.
Former Catoosa County Commissioner Mark Fletcher served as Public Works chairman and he recalls their group making plans to improve the system because it had a tremendous inflow and infiltration problem with groundwater.
Former County Manager Ed Vickrey said in Nov. 2003 that $573,177 in county funds were planned for the rehabilitation pending that amount coming in from the sales tax.
Fletcher said he does not recall his board ever officially voting to eliminate the oxidation pond and tying the rehabilitated system onto sewer but that was the boards intentions.
I dont recall us ever taking a vote, he said. EPD was badly wanting something done. They were going fine us if discharge of the pond had to go on.
Now four years after the change to the city control, the system rehabilitation was completed two months ago with inflow and infiltration issues reduced.
The ideal dream of his retirement farm for him was shattered when he realized that just a short walk up stream waters from the Morris Estates oxidation pond drain into a lime green pool that he describes as the old creek bed and into the nearly still waters that meet at that favorite play area for neighborhood kids.
The bottom line is do we want the kids swimming in that, he said. Thats my only interest.
As he drives, he points to a water intake Council Fire (subdivision) pulls all their irrigation water out after we dump our sewer in there.
Fliers about the issue have been distributed through both neighborhoods, local residents such as Susan Smith are banding together with other residents to see what might be done.
Spencer contacted area media and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, who sent out investigator J. Lancaster to review his complaint.
Oxidation Ponds are a lagoon or basin in which wastewater is purified by sedimentation and aerobic and anaerobic treatment. (Answers.com) These are often created in areas where sewer is not available and land conditions will not allow for septic tanks.
Fecal Coliform is bacteria common to the intestinal tract of mammals. Its presence indicates biowaste from livestock or humans. (bcn.boulder.co.us/basin/learning/glossary)
Biological Oxygen Demand is the oxygen used in meeting the metabolic needs of aerobic microorganisms in water rich in organic matter as water polluted with sewage. (Merriam-webster.com)
According to an EPD Complaint Tracking Record, she told Spencer If Morris Estates is discharging in the location that their permit states then there were no other regulations that EPD could enforce.
The record added, The EPD did not have any regulations on enforcing them to connect onto a municipalities sewer system.
Morris Estates resident Mike Phillips shared his frustration after a telephone call with an EPD supervisor.
As long as the numbers are correct it does not make a hill of beans, he said.
He refers to the test numbers sharing the level of fecal coliform in the water.
Bert Langley, EPD Mountain District Office manager, said June 27 that Ringgold is moving ahead on its own.
It is an odd situation, he said. A violation only occurs after they have sampled for a full month. We wont get official report until end of July. If repeated samples show problems we may get into more discussions.
The developer created the Morris Estates oxidation pond to service the approximately 250-house subdivision. As various entities became responsible for the sewer services in the county, the responsibility for certain oxidation ponds in the county have passed from Catoosa Utility District to the Catoosa County Public Works and finally in 2003, sewerage services in the Peavine basin, where Morris Estates is, were given by the county to the city of Ringgold.
It is the only publicly operated system that disposes treated runoff from a sewage system into the Chickamauga Creek in Catoosa County, however, several commercially-owned sewage treatment ponds or systems upstream in the county also drain treated overflow into the creek. Mitchell Acres subdivision in the West Chickamauga basin, maintained by Fort Oglethorpe, is also an oxidation pond that drains into the countys creek system.
So, according to the EPD, Ringgold operates the decades old legally permitted treatment pond.
Testing conducted on behalf of Chattanoogas consumer reporter Calvin Sneed, yielded higher than normal numbers of fecal coliform, according to reports.
Ringgold seeks solutions
Ringgold City Council voted unanimously June 26, 2008 to hire RMA Engineers to work with Georgia Environmental Protection Division representatives to develop the best course of action relating to Morris Estates oxidation pond. We need to have them look at the whole picture so we can tell the public what EPD will agree to, Mayor Joe Barger said. Council member Terry Crawford added, EPD has to tell us what we can and cant do.
Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright said that the city was notified about the tests and fecal coliform counts being higher than it should be.
We started a series of third-party testing and verified there was an issue, he said. When we found out there was potential problem with fecal count. We called EPD and notified them of what is going on. Currently, the city engineer is working with EPD and the city to make corrections or alterations as needed to
resolve any high fecal matter discharge. There are five different parameters and the others seem to be well in line.
The engineer will work with EPD and come up with the best plan relating to the
oxidation pond for the long term, he said.
EPD has not taken any punitive action relating to the increased test numbers, according to Robert Burson Ringgold Sewer superintendent.
Burson said that tests showed that fecal matter was 4,100 up stream, 2,000 at the inflow and 4,600 downstream. He said that does exceed the permitted 200 per 100 milliliter monthly average or the 400 weekly average EPD allows Ringgold by its permit.
Fecal count is also raised by the presence of livestock and there is nearby exposure to the creek, he said.
County monitoring records from Morris Estates pond operations prior to Ringgold taking over the system also include fecal levels as high as 120,000 in July 2001 to 86,500 in July 2002.
Wright said operation of the treatment facility is part of the citys regular routine.
We mow that pond every other week, the prisoners go out once a month and weed eat the pond banks around the water where it is hard to bush hog or mow with commercial type mower. We do monitoring and testing, he said. The EPD was out in February and the site passed inspection.
The water that flows into the creek is called treated effluent, he said.
It goes into an overflow (an area within the treatment system) where the clearest water runs into a chlorinator and then into and eight-inch pipe and then is discharged into the creek, he said. There is a automated tablet chlorinator that was installed while the county operated the pond. That system is monitored closely in the process of treating the effluent that leaves the pond entering the creek.
Burson said the city is proactive about any situation relating to its sewer and that the recent testing has helped to provide even more accurate procedures.
The EPD has fined Ringgold $250 in April 2004 and again in May 2008 for biological oxygen demand tests exceeding permit limitations, according to Burson.
These fines resulted by Ringgold providing the EPD with monitoring numbers on the strength of bacteria content level slightly exceeding the minimum but the fines did not relate to raised fecal coliform levels, he said.
For Spencer, he said the bottom line is he would like to see the oxidation pond closed, cleaned up and the sewer hooked up to the interceptor.
According to Spencer, a sewerage line that he believes connects to the Peavine sewerage interceptor was installed within 10 feet of the sewage delivery intake for the oxidation pond but not connected.
Open record requests by Spencer could not shed any light on when and who installed that line leaving the sewerage flowing into the pond. He said neither representatives of the county or city said they were aware of line, which could indicate it dates back to the original interceptor project.
He said he is even offering to pay to install the 10-feet of sewer line to connect the two systems.
Catoosa Utility District confirmed that Spencer requested sewage billing numbers for the subdivision. Residents paid $20,463 in sewage fees over five months in 2008, an average of $4,093 per month. Based on those numbers and if the city received similar figures since beginning collections, residents paid approximately $172,000 since Jan. 2004.
Spencer said that money can certainly be applied to cleaning up the pond.
Wright said the six- and eight- inch publicly-owned sewer lines in the subdivision have been relined; manholes have been repaired to try to eliminate inflow and infiltration where tree roots had penetrated through those pipes.
According to Burson, contractors finished the process about two months ago. Wright said the project was approximately $400,000.
In regards to the closure of the oxidation pond and connection of the subdivision to the Peavine interceptor, the city has yet to confirm its future course of action.
The costs to clean up the pond are undetermined. That bill will likely fall back on Ringgold unless additional county SPLOST funding is applied to the closure and post closure of the system.
Unfortunately, when you need to make any alteration to a (sewage treatment) plant you still have to go through required procedures with the EPD, Wright said.
And those take time, he said.
According to EPD guidelines, the process of beginning to close a pond should be begin in the winter or early spring and the process can take between six to 12 months.
CLICK ON THESE LINKS