Walker County working to repair creek or face hefty fines
WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -
People living along Rock Creek in Walker County, Georgia are sitting and waiting for the county to repair part of the creek it damaged two years ago, when crews were installing a walking and biking trail. After multiple extensions, the county is facing thousands of dollars in fines from the state if it does not finish the repairs by the end of the year.
The state gave Walker County a September deadline which has since come and gone. The county could rack up some potentially hefty fines from the state Environmental Protection Division.
"One thousand dollars. Every day," says Jill Wyse.
One thousand dollars is how much Walker County will have to pay to the state if it does not make the proper repairs to Rock Creek.
"This creek has been here a really really long time and it should not be abused. It especially should not be abused by Walker County," says Wyse, who owns property along the creek.
Wyse contacted the Georgia Environmental Protection Division two years ago when the creek along her property went from crystal clear to a cloudy soup.
"I looked in the creek and it was just so muddy, it was like chocolate milk," she says.
While working to extend the Durham rail walking trail, county workers broke state law by covering Rock Creek with mounds and mounds of dirt.
EPD's Director of Compliance tells Channel 3 the construction has cut off breeding populations for the trout stream.
"Just appalled and saddened and shocked and really angry that somebody would do that to a reproducing trout stream."
The county faced a $65,000 fine after initial repairs of installing a culvert did not meet state guidelines. But it gave the county a break telling it to spend the $65,000 on repairs instead of paying a flat fine. It now plans to install a bridge.
The county missed a September 11th deadline, which triggered the $1,000 day fines, but was granted a fourth extension to finish the work by December, putting the fines on hold.
"They really got a break from the EPD and that's great because the taxpayers got a break. But they need to finish this," says Wyse.
Commissioner Bebe Heiskell did not return Channel 3's multiple phone calls asking if the county plans to have the work done by the end of the year. When we stopped by the site, no work was being done.
If Walker County does not meet the December deadline, it will continue to be slapped with a $1,000 fine every day.