Riverkeeper group moves to stop Forsyth discharge permit

The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper filed a petition Thursday to stop a permit allowing Forsyth County to discharge 6 million gallons a day of treated wastewater into the river south of Buford Dam.

Juliet Cohen, general counsel for the organization, said the permit limits for phospherous and for fecal coliform are too weak, and the county's treatment facility is capable of producing a much higher quality wastewater.

High levels of phospherous can choke off oxygen supplies for water life, she said, and fecal coliform presents health risks to humans.

Cohen said the county is currently releasing high quality-treated water, but the permit would allow it to lower its standards.

Forsyth spokeswoman Jodi B. Gardner said the EPD issued the county’s discharge permit in full accordance with their standard procedures, based on detailed water quality modeling to determine the treatment levels.

"We are unaware of any variation from their standard permit process or requirements," she said. "The county only expects to be treated just like any other entity requesting a discharge permit.”

An EPD spokesman said the agency has not had time to review the petition and offered no comment.

On Aug. 18, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued a wastewater discharge permit to Forsyth County for a direct discharge into the Chattahoochee below Buford Dam within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The permit allows for 6 million gallons a day of treated wastewater.