Commerce Seeks Banks County’s Help In Protecting Reservoir
Egg Operation At Gillsville Seen As Threat To City’s Water Supply
The city of Commerce will ask the Banks County Board of Commissioners for help in protecting its water supply from an industrial plant under construction near Gillsville.
The mayor and city council signed a letter at Monday night’s work session asking Banks County BOC Chairman Gene Hart to enforce the watershed protection plan it approved in 1998 to protect both the Commerce watershed lake and Banks County’s Mountain Creek Reservoir.
The issue is a commercial egg production plant to be located across Hwy. 52 from the Joe Craven Farm and its potential impact on the city’s reservoir, located on the Grove River off Grove Level Church Road in Banks County.
Bryan Harbin, Commerce’s director of water and sewer operations, told the council that contractors working on the Country Charm egg distributors’ plant had violated the state’s stream buffer ordinance and “plowed through a tributary” to the Grove River. He told the city council that the EPD had “turned its head” on enforcement of state erosion and sedimentation laws.
Under the watershed protection plan, Harbin said such operations are prohibited within seven miles of the reservoir. Parts of this project - which includes a dozen structures containing 96,000 laying hens apiece - are within that range, according to Harbin.
“It can be a pretty nasty facility,” said Harbin.
The chicken manure generated at the plant would be self-contained, but the city’s concern is from the washing of the eggs, according to Harbin. There is no sewer service in the area.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners rejected an attempt by the Country Charm to build a plant on Jot-Em-Down Road after strong objections from citizens.
The letter reminds Hart that the city reservoir is a drinking water source for Maysville and parts of Banks County as well as the city.
“We ... request your attention to enforcing the provisions of the watershed protection plan as it applies to protecting the Grove River Reservoir from commercial egg production,” the letter says. “The potential contamination from this facility above the Grove River poses a direct threat to the city’s drinking water reservoir. It is in the best interest of public health that we continue to provide a safe and reliable drinking water system to both your citizens as well as our customers.”