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Lee's Wright to make presentation at water meeting

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Lee County Code Enforcement officer Jim Wright will outline his and the county's stormwater enforcement process Friday during a meeting of the Georgia Association of Water Professionals here.

Wright was invited to discuss his program by Connie Haynes, an official with the nonpoint source program of the Environmental Protection Division's watershed protection branch.

"I'm very excited about Jim bringing his program to the GAWP members," Haynes said. "Jim has put together a great program in Lee County. He's very conscientious and forward-thinking, and his is the kind of innovative program many of the (GAWP) members from the metro Atlanta area are not used to hearing.

"The thing that I'm so excited about is that the Lee County program includes outreach and education elements."

Wright will offer conference attendees a step-by-step outline of his enforcement procedures for individuals, agencies and businesses guilty of illegally discharging potentially hazardous materials into the county's waterways.

"Water is very important to our region on many levels," Wright said. "We're trying to do everything we can to improve our water quality for the people, the agriculture/livestock needs and recreational uses in our region. These are the kinds of issues that attract businesses and continue growth.

"Being asked to take part in the (GAWP meeting) shows that the county is doing a good job of meeting our requirements, and the people in the state took notice."

Lee Code Enforcement's handling of EPD-required stormwater inspections and reports is a perfect balance of environmental and enforcement elements, according to H&H Resources engineer Mike Talley, who works with Lee County as a stormwater consultant.

"Jim's background in law enforcement is fortuitous for Lee County," Talley said. "A lot of counties stick the (EPD permitting) duties with various other agencies, and there is often a disconnect in meeting state requirements. Jim has the capacity as a Code Enforcement officer to make the inspections and, if necessary, write citations to offenders.

"He's also, by being conscientious in the reports we help him prepare, developed a good relationship with EPD officials. Believe me, that relationship with county representatives is usually adversarial."

Leesburg City Clerk Casey Moore will attend Friday's meeting, which is open to stormwater, wastewater and drinking water professionals, with Wright and Talley.

"I'm just tagging along for this meeting, but the city has gotten hammered in the past on sewer and stormwater issues so I thought this would be an opportunity to pick up valuable pointers," Moore said. "(Wright) does inspections and files EPD reports for the county and city, so I'm going to use this opportunity to talk with the people we report to and see if there are things we can do in the future."