GOWA Works to Improve Land Application Bill

Bruce Widener, a lobbyist working on behalf of the Georgia Onsite Wastewater Association (GOWA) is working to have a land application bill amended because land treatment of septage continues to be an ongoing, statewide problem despite the fact that the bill is already in place.

Under the bill’s guidelines, Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has imposed an extensive list of requirements needed in order for septage haulers to obtain a permit to land apply waste. Fulfilling all the necessary requirements has proven difficult for applicants, especially those who work for smaller companies.
GOWA President Jessie Nix says the state’s Environmental Protection Division is making it more difficult for smaller, and even medium sized companies, to obtain a land application for septic and grease trap waste. Nix, who works for a hauling company, says his company is directly affected by this issue and the difficulty to dispose of waste. Many counties throughout Georgia won’t accept septage, and pumpers, therefore, need to drive great distances to dispose of it, which in turn causes prices to skyrocket.

When Widener introduced the bill, a Septage Study Committee was created for the purpose of researching the problem and recommending possible solutions. The study concluded that land treatment was allowed, and the bill passed, however, waste disposal continues to be a problem. Many counties won’t accept septage at all. Widener says, “No major headway’s been made beyond land treatment. This is a big issue here.”

The GOWA also established a committee to look at the bill, but Nix said not too many people showed up. Widener echoed Nix’s sentiment when he said the GOWA has lost members in the last few years due to the economy’s downturn.

The only way for changes to be made is to get involved in the process. Widener encourages residents and individual pumpers to speak to their legislatures toward permitting haulers to land apply septage. Granting haulers with that ability to land apply waste in more locations spread throughout the state would drive down the cost of hauling septage. As it stands now, haulers need to drive great distances in order to dispose of waste. Driving costs down would be a win-win situation for everybody. 

Story by Megan McClure

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