CLAYTON— The culvert at the intersection of the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and Chechero Street has been an ongoing controversy between the Food Bank and the City of Clayton, and the plot thickened when it sprung a leak last week and contents poured into Stekoa Creek.
It is a possibility that erosion caused the leak, said Jordan Green, city of Clayton Mayor, in a phone interview Friday.
Green said that he spoke to Jason Waldroup, Clayton public works director, and he said that there is some erosion in that area.
Green said that the leak has been fixed and gravel has been put down to help stabilize the area.
“We’re still working with the Food Bank,” Green said about getting the culvert fixed.
He said that the city is looking at grants and is waiting to hear back from the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) about grant opportunities.
“Hopefully we’ll get that going,” Green said.
At a recent Clayton City Council meeting, council members said that they planned to work with the Food Bank to apply for a public-private partnership grant because it would give the best opportunity for receiving funding to fix the problem.
James Brim, director of the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia Mountain Branch, declined to comment on the culvert leak.
Green said that the culvert will get fixed one way or another.
Molly Dougherty, administrative assistant at Chattooga Conservancy, and Emily Anderson, program associate at Chattooga Conservancy, were collecting samples of Stekoa Creek when they spotted the leak.
Dougherty said that she noticed discoloration in the water and that the water was turning brown very quickly.
She said that she called the city to see if they were aware of the discoloration.
Dougherty said that Chattooga Conservancy collects water samples every other week to monitor the water quality of Stekoa Creek. She said that they will continue with their routine sampling as usual going forward.
“The reason that we were taking water samples in Stekoa Creek is because it’s a public health hazard,” said Nicole Hayler, executive director of Chattooga Conservancy,
She said that taking samples to check water quality is keeping the issue of pollution of Stekoa Creek “in the public’s eye.”
Hayler said that this incident brings to light the problem of conflicting forces fighting over infrastructure maintenance in Rabun County.
“It’s lead to a stalemate for action,” Hayler said about the city of Clayton and the Food Bank not working together to fix the problem quickly.
“There are definitely things that can be done to clean it up and I think it should be a priority,” Hayler said.
She said that Chattooga Conservancy will continue their work as usual and that they are willing to partner with other organizations as well.