Carter planners begin revamping stormwater rules

John Thompson • Oct 10, 2012 at 9:10 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Members of the Carter County Planning Commission had a conversation with officials of the Johnson City Field Office of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Tuesday morning to learn more about the county’s requirements under the federally mandated stormwater program.

The planners heard from Mark Braswell, regional director for TDEC, Jeff Horton, who covers surface water for the field office, and Brown Patton, who covers water pollution control.

Horton said the stormwater requirements the county must complete are “part of the federal government’s mandate. They require us to do our jobs, so that is why we are here today.”

One contentious matter was raised by Planning Commission Chairman Steve Pierce, who said an audit was completed by the state in April, but the local office did not hear any more about the audit until Sept. 20, when a notice of violation was sent, listing four areas that must be corrected. He said there was only a 30-day deadline to respond.

Braswell explained the findings from the audit had gone through several offices before the notice was sent. Brown said the 30-day deadline was merely to send back a letter on how the remedies will be made.

During the meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved several remedies, including a timeline on actions to be taken from Oct. 9 through early 2013.

Two of the remedies were unanimously approved Tuesday, including revisions to the county’s stormwater resolution and reaffirming the county’s post-construction agreement.

Amendments to the Carter County Stormwater Resolution will include a definition of “hot spots” and the adoption of a new Public Information and Education Plan. New standard operating procedures will be adopted concerning illicit discharge detection and elimination.

These amendments will be sent to the County Commission for final approval in February or March.

The planners also will bid out a monitoring and recordkeeping project on streams that have been listed as contaminated.

Beginning in January, a more intense program of training county employees about impacts to water quality, including all employees associated with maintenance, road work and landfill operations.

Part of the amendments adopted Tuesday included a section on penalties for violations of county stormwater regulations. The penalties were in a range of $50 to $5,000 per day.

Pierce wondered about the $5,000 a day penalty. The field office personnel told him it merely matched the state regulations and provided for a flexible range to meet the various problems that could be encountered in the county.

Planning Director Chris Schuettler said the county is continuing with its stormwater mapping program and is about 75 percent completed. He said the timeline for finishing the project is May.

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