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Aug. 6, 2020
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Hearing set to relax erosion ordinances

By Pamela A. Keene
 
Hall County Commissioners are proposing loosening restrictions on the amount of land that can be disturbed at one time during construction, but lake advocacy groups are against the idea.
 
“With the erosion and siltation from both non-point-source and runoff from large pieces of land that are exposed during construction, relaxing the ordinance will do damage to Lake Lanier’s watershed and the lake,” said Jennifer Flowers, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association. “It is vital that the tighter restrictions stay in place to protect the watershed and the lake’s quality. Erosion and siltation are major contributors to degradation of the lake that provides drinking water and recreation to millions of people.”
 
The commission is holding a second reading of a proposal to relax erosion and siltation ordinances on Thursday, August 13. The association is urging its constituents and area citizens to make their voices known in opposition of the change. The group is also asking citizens to email their commissioners. Addresses are listed on the group’s website at lakelanier.org.
 
The Thursday, August 13, meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Hall County Government Center at 2875 Browns Bridge Rd.
 
“The association provided comments in opposition at the first reading in late July and will be present again on August 13,” Flowers said. “We are also reaching out to the commissioners ahead of the meeting to make our points known.”
 
The county ordinance currently requires that only 20 acres of land can be disturbed at a time on construction sites; the proposed change will extend that figure to 50 acres.
 
“With so much dirt exposed, it is difficult to control the runoff, erosion and sedimentation during rainfall,” said Dale Caldwell, director of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in Gainesville. “This leads to even more pollution of our waterways. And, while these ordinances have been on the books for a number of years, we cannot allow them to be relaxed.” 
 
Pollution from erosion, runoff and sedimentation are most likely to affect Lake Lanier, area rivers, creeks and streams. Polluted water is more difficult to treat for drinking water, plus it affects area wildlife, including fish and birds.
 
“State standards in place are not protective enough for our waterways,” Caldwell said. “And while Hall County is trying to loosen the restrictions, we understand that Forsyth County is looking to tighten their restrictions. 
 
“These ordinances are in place not only to protect our waterways and downstream users, but also to protect the developers themselves from possible future lawsuits from downstream users,” he said.
 
Hall County has established an Erosion Hotline at 770 533-7420.

Posted online 7.30.20
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