The city of Jasper issued a press release on Monday noting they are working with the EPD to correct a permitting issue regarding the water intake on Long Swamp Creek.
The city of Jasper uses a combination of water from Long Swamp Creek and water purchased through agreements with other governments to supply its water system.
The press release stated that an unpermitted intake had been used since the early 2000s to pump water from the creek into the abandoned mines along Cove Road, which the city has used as a massive underground reservoir.
In later comments, Mayor Steve Lawrence said that at no point was water quality ever an issue. The water through the unpermitted intake was pumped into the mines. All water from the creek and mines are pumped to the city’s water plant and treated there.
Lawrence said they are hoping to resolve this issue but will have to discontinue pumping the water from the creek into the mines until this situation with the EPD is cleared. Mayor Lawrence said the relationship thus far with the EPD has been “very cooperative.”
Lawrence said the city will continue working with the county to expand water resources, including a new line along Highway 136 connecting to Gilmer County so they could purchase additional water there.
Even as they shut down the unpermitted intake, Lawrence said there won’t be an issue with supply.
Lawrence said there is no concern about water shortages now or in the foreseeable future. “We will not allow any development that we can not support,” he said.
A copy of a consent order sent with the press release presented some terms and conditions that the city and EPD are discussing. The city could be subject to hefty fines based on the consent order.
The consent order indicates that the city has proposed that they correct the missing permit, provide a lengthy list of documentation regarding the operation and pay a $4,000 fine.
Original Press Release
On May 15, 2020, the city of Jasper self-reported to the state EPD the discovery of an unpermitted intake that caused a diversion of surface water from Long Swamp Creek into the Crystalline Aquifer more commonly known as the abandoned underground mine which provides water for part of the city’s permitted wells.
The EPD violation began, as best as can be determined, over 20 years ago and continued until discovered by the current city administration in 2020. Upon making the self report, the current city administration shut down the intake.
As a result of discovering the violation and the city immediately closing the unpermitted intake, the recharge rate at the mine has slowed and the city is unable to withdraw the permitted capacity. We have offset that water loss by purchasing water from our neighboring partners and actively seeking other sources.
The city also started the process with EPD to properly permit the intake and use the mine for water storage as an underground reservoir. As a part of this process, EPD requested the consent order which requires the city to provide certain information as a part of the permitting process.
Since the May 2020 self-reporting date, we have worked extensively with EPD to establish a working relationship with them to proceed forward with permitting the underground reservoir.