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County OKs resolution in support of Ogeechee River
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Effingham County commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday night that asks the state to continue monitoring the Ogeechee River.

Commissioners approved the resolution, which will be sent to the state Environmental Protection Division. They also agreed to list all commissioners’ names on the resolution. The resolution is intended to urge EPD to monitor the river for pollutants and the discharge coming from and the permit requirements for Screven County textiles plant King America Finishing.

Commissioners also urged the EPD to consider revoking or not renewing discharge permits to “companies that violate the provisions of state effluent discharge permits by polluting state resources,” the resolution stated.

“It is similar to the one passed by Bryan County and fairly similar to that passed by the city of Savannah,” County Administrator David Crawley said of the resolution adopted by Effingham commissioners.

The EPD will hold a public hearing March 5 at 7 p.m. at Effingham County High School on a proposed consent order against King America Finishing on alleged violations of the Georgia Water Quality Control Act. The proposed consent order calls for King America to put into place supplemental environmental projects to benefit the Ogeechee River.

More than 38,000 dead fish were found in the river downstream from King America Finishing’s discharge pipe in May 2011. No fish were found to have died from columnaris, a bacteria determined to have caused the fish kill, upstream from King America’s discharge pipe.

The resolution adopted Tuesday night was amended from an original draft, including language directed at King America Finishing and at the river’s long-range health.

“These items really kind of strengthen the resolution, a stronger stance toward discharge into the Ogeechee River,” Crawley said.

In the resolution, commissioners said they wanted to seek “a long and lasting solution to pollution issues in the Ogeechee River.”

Pollution has caused sporadic fish kills in the river, and those fish kills have occurred downstream of King America’s discharge pipe into the Ogeechee, the resolution stated. The EPD granted a draft permit to King America, allowing the plant to continue discharging into the river, but revoked the draft permit.

County commissioners are asking the state to require the plant to install a treatment system that treats any discharge to drinking water standards.

Commissioners also are urging the EPD to mandate King America install a system that recirculates the water used in the plant’s process and not be allowed to discharge into the river.

First District Commissioner Forrest Floyd, who campaigned on putting forth a resolution to support protection of the river, said he appreciated Crawley working on the issue.

“I’m satisfied with the document,” he said.

Public hearing
• When: March 5, 7 p.m.
• Where: Effingham County HIgh School
• About: The EPD will hold a public hearing on a proposed consent order against King America Finishing.