Rules working, official says

Columbia County officials say they've got a handle on last year's erosion problems.

"It's improved considerably," said Richard Harmon, the county's Building and Commercial Services director.

Mr. Harmon's department oversees the residential side of development when it comes to soil erosion enforcement. The county's Engineering Department handles commercial inspections.

A year ago, Mr. Harmon said, soil runoff violations at neighborhood construction sites were more severe. Now, however, new rules are in place and appear to be working. Builders were required to obtain a Georgia Soil and Water Conservation certification by January.

Construction site violations had been a concern with some commissioners, and at one point Mr. Harmon's office was required to report to board members a list of those found not in compliance.

Mr. Harmon said that should a violation be discovered, a warning or even a stop work notice could be issued, adding that silt fence violations are among the most typical offenses.

A silt fence, typically constructed of fabric with a wire backing and held in place by metal posts, prevents large amounts of soil from flowing off a cleared site and downstream during rainfall. A downed silt fence would be a violation.

So far this year, Jimmy Vowell, a county erosion and sediment inspector, said there have been fewer violations at sites. Lately, he said, key areas of interest for inspections have included Mullikin Road, Chamblin Road and the developments of River Island and Ivy Falls as there's a greater concern for state waterways there.

The county has two inspectors for residential developments, and a third is expected soon.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

GOT A REQUEST?

Concerns about development sites and possible runoff issues or soil erosion violations can be called in to the county's nonemergent 311 phone line. Concerns are forwarded to the county's inspectors.