The creek, which a consent order identifies as the headwaters of Anneewakee Creek — a tributary of the Chattahoochee River — will be restored to its original state as part of the agreement.
City Manager Bill Osborne said he felt the federal Environmental Protection Agency was “very fair” with the city. It reportedly had originally sought a $20,000 civil penalty against the city before agreeing to $10,000 earlier this year.
“We were clearly in violation of what the expectations were,” Osborne said. “They tried to make sure that our employees and park maintenance [personnel] understand what to do and not to do.”
Douglasville also is spending more than $20,000 for reclamation work that includes putting the stream back in its natural state, he said.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency cited the city for unauthorized channelization and modification of the stream after city crews improperly used earth-moving equipment to remove silt from a 400-foot section between the park’s lake and Gurley Road after the September 2009 flooding.
Osborne said the flooding filled the creek up with silt “but the way we handled it was deemed to be not appropriate.”
“Our understanding was we were able to do some clearing out of that stream,” he said. “Then when we did do some, basically, reclaiming of the channel of the creek, which was some months after the flooding had occurred, we were well past the deadline that the EPA felt the emergency stream cleanout could occur.
“We thought that it was OK to do what we did, but that would have been something that could have taken place only within a few weeks after the flooding.”
City workers cleared out the stream but damaged the banks, Osborne explained.
“They were not meticulous in how they did it,” he said.
Athens-based Nutter & Associates will restore the stream, monitor it for five years, and create an environmental education plan for the city, he said.
EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming said in a prepared statement unauthorized discharges into lakes and streams threaten water quality and damage habitats.
“The Southeastern region is home to nearly 30 percent of all wetlands in the U.S., which feed the rivers, streams and lakes we depend on to provide sources of water, food, transportation and recreational opportunities,” Fleming said.