Lake Peachtree repair is being mishandled

I am very concerned about the the mismanagement of the Lake Peachtree problems. I have 50 years experience in the public works sector and I cannot remember when the public has been so misinformed about a problem that has such a simple solution that it should have been addressed two months ago and the lake refilled back in June.

No one has informed the public that this was a simple maintenance problem that could have been fixed by the county forces within a week of it being found.

I have visited the spillway to see what the problem was and found it to be a simple void under the spillway. As I walked around the lake on a daily basis for the last year and a half I observed that, when the water behind the spillway was too low to go over the spillway, the water would go under it and come out on the left side as I watched from the bridge.

Anyone could tell that the water had another way of getting through and under the spillway. This spillway issue is an example of overreaction to standard maintenance problems being turned into apparent major catastrophes by Commissioner Steve Brown and County Manager Steve Rapson.

The second example of overreaction dealt with corrugated metal storm sewer pipe (CMP).

A discussion meeting was scheduled between the county and citizens who were required to pay money because their land had non-pervious areas that contributed to run-off and pollution. A video was shown to scare people into believing that there exists an opportunity for a major catastrophe resulting from road washout due to failures of corrugated metal pipe.

I have seen this same video two or three times in seminars in the past, and every time the same reasoning is applied to the washout of a road that leaves many people stranded.

This washout is not due to failure of corrugated metal pipe, but in fact, a failure to maintain the flow of water through the pipe, a simple maintenance task.

Any one in the business could tell you that the maintenance at that storm sewer crossing was the problem and had very little to do with corrugated metal pipe. Mr. Brown and Mr. Rapson went on to condemn all corrugated metal pipe and to cast fear that this type of washout problem would happen here soon and that it must be solved immediately.

In other words, all corrugated metal pipe in the county needed to be replaced now. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I went to the second meeting and listened to the concerned citizens all of whom said basically the same thing: “We have already paid to have these problems repaired and do not wish to pay again to repair something that has already been fixed.”

Mr. Rapson and Mr. Brown ignored the people and restated the problem as they saw it. I doubt that either of these men have walked or crawled through any pipe in their lives and I doubt they they could stand in the middle of any storm sewer pipe and tell you what is good or bad about it.

This is made clear by the example in their pictures of road-related sewer problems here in Fayette County. Their examples are completely wrong and their solutions to non-existant problems do not address the real ones that are there. It would appear that they have no intention of fixing the existing problems.

For example, pictures and explanations of two 72-inch CMP culverts at Flat Creek Trail (Fayette Stormwater Townhall meeting March 25, 2013) show problems with the two pipes. I walked down these two pipes and I could see that what was pointed out in the pictures was not the problem. At the next meeting Mr. Rapson alluded that he had visited this site recently. If that were so he would have noticed a beaver dam on the upstream side blocking 4 feet of the 6-foot diameter pipe.

Another problem that has been mishandled by Mr. Rapson and Mr. Brown is the stinky water, which they originally said came from Lake Peachtree and then offered various other reasons for the problem, e.g., a pond holding water which somehow got into the drinking water which, we were told, was safe regardless of its smell and taste, yet later was decided that the water was so impure that it had to go through the Fayette County Sanitary Sewer system before being released into the river.

As it turns out this is yet another maintenance problem. Who caused it and why funds were not given two or three years earlier, or whether this happened last year we may never know. What we do know is that a scapegoat was found in Mr. Parrot and he was demoted, saving the county about $30,000 but has been replaced by a consultant firm which I am guessing will cost many times more that salary.

These three examples show what happens when routine maintenance is not done in a timely manner. We have a county manager who does not seem to understand routine maintenance and (as I heard in one of these Town Hall meetings) reprimands the maintenance employees for doing what should have been done, but because they used corrugated metal pipe which was available and already paid for (but which Mr Rapson instructed them not to use), they made him look bad.

Mr. Rapson has continuously used scare tactics and threats to get people to vote the way he wants them to vote. I find this behavior extremely offensive and resent the increase in our taxes to pay for things that are not required.

Charles Phillis
Peachtree City, Ga.