The Potato Creek pumps continue to remain silent, more than two months after a contaminant was found in Potato Creek upstream in Lamar County. Victor Cozart, Director of Operations in Thomaston for Severn Trent, which runs the water and sewer system for the city, said they are still waiting on word from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) on what the chemicals are and what hazards, if any, they pose to the creek water.
“The state still has me sampling. They have not approved me going back to the creek and pumping water into the city,” Cozart said last Friday. He added that he has not gone through this experience before and doesn’t know if the state normally takes this long to come to a decision, but that he doesn’t mind waiting. “For me, the longer they take, the safer the city is. We don’t have to worry about taking any chances or any risks.”
A property owner in Lamar County, who has asked to remain anonymous, first found the contaminant in the creek, which runs through his property, on September 30. It was turning the creek black, had a strong odor, and was killing the fish in the creek.
The property owner contacted officials in Lamar County and Thomaston, concerned about the pollution getting into nearby wells and also possibly contaminating Thomaston’s drinking supply. When notified, Cozart promptly shut down the Potato Creek pumps and began investigating the pollutant.
Cozart said the source of the pollutant is believed to be a lumber company in the Barnesville Industrial Park, which is about two miles away from the Lamar County property.
“Jordan Lumber Company is where the spill initially occurred,” Cozart said. “They have a leachate basin, and it overflowed their basin and into the tributary which leads down to Potato Creek. It was reported and that’s the only report that I’ve got.”
The industrial park is also the location of the old Lamar County Landfill, which is now closed.
As for water and sewer needs in Thomaston, Cozart said the city is living off of Hannah’s Mill and Lake Thomaston, and water levels remain good.