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September 7, 2007

CEDAR CREEK WELL FIELDS—WHAT IS THE STATUS?
JUST WHAT IS THE CEDAR CREEK PROJECT?

After attending several meetings in the month of August, the “Cedar Creek Well Fields Project” continues to pop up and the subject has caused some controversy.

What is the Cedar Creek Well Field Project? According to Ken McMichael of the Jasper County WSA, it is a geological anomaly. The following is Quoted from the official August 6, 2007 BOC meeting Transcript—

Ken McMichael: [speaking to the Commissioners]

Another change that needs to be made to the map. If you'll notice -- and I've got a couple of maps here for y'all if you'll pass them around -- at Highway 11 and Perimeter Road, just south of Perimeter Road is what we call the Cedar Creek well field. This was discovered by Feldspar Corporation quite by accident. And to give you a brief description of what this is, the substructure in most of north Georgia is granite rock. It's got very small fissures and to get a high quality, high-yielding well is very difficult. If you get one, it's strictly by accident. In south Georgia, they've got limestone substructure. The fissures, cracks in the rocks are much larger and much larger quantities of water are available. But there has been a geological anomaly discovered in this area. It's at the head waters of Cedar Creek of limestone substructure, and we think there is a high volume of water to be harvested from this area.

This geological anomaly is roughly a half a mile wide and three-and-a-half miles long.
And if you'll notice on your future land use map, on one side of Highway 11, right on top of this valuable resource, is designated for future industrial development, and on the other side of the road is for high density housing. And we need to remove that from the land use map and return it to agricultural district to protect this valuable natural resource. And this resource needs to be identified in our comprehensive land use plan and the map needs to be changed to protect that valuable resource.

A couple of changes that I would like -- or additions I would like to see added to the text part of the -- of what Chris had for you is on the short-term work program, the five-year plan, I would like to see it added that the City of Monticello and Jasper County Water and Sewer Authority jointly plans to do a project in that well field to supply water to the City of Monticello and the Water Authority. And I'd like to see that project added to the short-term work program.

The reason we is highlighted is because it implies that JCWSA, the entire board, is being represented by Mr. McMichael with these remarks.

At the Commissioner’s Special Called Meeting on August 21, 2007, Ken McMichael spoke again (TWG has a tape of the entire meeting):

Ken McMichael: Contrary to some people’s belief all water belongs to the State; the State and Jasper Co have right to protect resources. Carter & Sloope has done a complete engineering report. Geologists have been involved in this plan from the very beginning. We hired A&S [geologists]. The City & the JCWSA have been having meetings to discuss this project.

Mary Patrick: Mr. McMichael says the City & JCWSA have been having meetings. I would like to know when, because by law they have to advertise them and the meetings are open. When are the meetings held? What’s been discussed and what are their plans?

Ken McMichael: If you want to get request from JCWSA that’s no problem because we voted unanimously at our last meeting that Cedar Creek Well Project would be the #1 project from now on and we are seeking federal funding for that project. This is not a Water Authority issue. The Land Use Plan is to identify and protect resources. The resource has been identified by Carter & Sloope’s engineering report. Our geologist has identified the recharge area of that resource. It ought to be in the plan.

TWG has found several conflicting statements and articles concerning these remarks. Many of these conflicting statements were recorded at a “Special Called Meeting” of the JCWSA on August 23, 2007 at 6:00PM. Supposedly there was a notice posted 25 hours ahead of time. No reporter from the Monticello News was present at this meeting. TWG does not know if the news staff knew about the meeting.

This “Special Called Meeting” of the JCWSA was recorded. Five citizens did attend—those 5 all own property in the “Cedar Creek” area that Mr. McMichael wanted on the map. Some of the more interesting statements were as follows:

Citizen: There is Conflicting evidence in your documents. You must do away with doubt.
This is not credible; there are missing documents in here. Intentional or accidental, I don’t know, but Maps & figures not there. Why if this [geological information] came out 3 days ago does it have copyright of 2001?

Chair of JCWSA: This is good information. We didn’t have it before. We went on information we had at the time. (TWG: Yet they’ve had the report done by the engineers for the City AND JCWSA since 2005 and a geologist report since January 2007.)

Citizen: Do your research like I did. You’ll find it was taken out of context. (TWG: JCWSA didn’t do its research for Bear Creek Reservoir either. Citizens had to do that also.)

JCWSA member: Isn’t all we’ve done is identify possible sites & that’s still ongoing?

Chairman: It’s not ongoing at all. We’re not actively exploring any sites at this time. Long Term solution has to be a reservoir. City at this time is not active with us. Asked city to accept that they would use a considerable amount of water. City is not willing to do that. (TWG: Yet Mr. McMichael told the Commissioners that this was a joint project with the City and should be put on the Short term work program. He also said JCWSA voted to make it their #1 project. Which is it?)

As the meeting continued after more discussion the JCWSA Engineer, Frank Sherill said, “At this point in time we don’t see this as a project.”
Citizen 2: That’s a contradictory statement. [Executive Director’s] email said this was always a project.

Engineer: There is no funding for it right now.

Citizen 2: So the implication is if you get funding, you’ll be pursuing it.

Citizen 3: Where was notice posted for this meeting? How long was it up?

Exec. Director: 25 hours

Citizen 4: Is there some way we can be notified in some way ifs this is going to be brought up
in the future?

Citizen 1: We found out by hear-say (about this meeting). I feel violated – looking at my property without my knowing it.

Chairman: Anytime the subject comes up I’ll be in touch with you!

This is all double talk. Is the Cedar Creek Well Project in the works or not? Have there been meetings between the Authority and the City? If so, how many? Where and when were the meeting notices posted? Where are the meeting minutes required by Georgia’s Open Meetings and Records laws? Georgia’s Sunshine Laws can be found at this link:

http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/sunshine_laws.pdf?p=6CC6799F8C
1371F6C682B6892FEE5FED2F7B90579A7FBB10E46F4872824E008D&Type=D

for anyone who wishes to review them.

TWG hopes the members of the JCWSA will take the time to review the requirements of the Open Meetings and Open Records Laws in the very near future and start abiding by them.


TWG
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