In recent weeks rumors have been circulating in the City of Lafayette concerning allegations that our drinking water is contaminated and it didn’t take long before several local residents began asking questions and seeking answers. With that said, before creating a panic, on Thursday night, December 30th, I contacted Mayor J.Y. Carter, who did confirm that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), located in Nashville, had requested the city water be tested daily.On December 1, 2010, staff with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation visited the property of Charles Trent, at 256 Jim Chitwood Lane, here in Macon County, in response to an anonymous complaint and upon arriving at the site, they identified locations where septage (contents of septic tanks) had been illegally discharged directly onto the land owned by Mr. Trent. The volume and frequency of this activity was evident in that the ground was covered with residue at a number of locations and at one location in particular the volume and frequency have been such that the septage covered the ground for approximately 100 yards and was observed flowing directly into Spring Creek. His 2010 Pumper Contractor Permit application indicated that the City of Lafayette Wastewater Treatment Facility would be the disposal location for the septage generated by his business and he was notified and advised that his Permit No. 406 to engage in the business of removing and disposing of domestic septage had been revoked for failure to comply with the Tennessee regulations.
“TDEC contacted me and ask that we test our water on a daily basis,” the Mayor stated on Thursday night, “and in compliance with their request we have been testing it everyday and at this point it is fine, which is really all I can say about this investigation.”
When contacted by telephone on Friday afternoon, December 31st, District Attorney Tommy Thompson stated that he had recently been notified by TDEC of the allegations against Trent. “This is an ongoing investigation by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, concerning Charles Trent,” Thompson said, “who had a permit to dump at the sewage plant in Lafayette, however it is suspected that not all of it was being disposed of at this site and there is also speculation on what was found on his farm.”
“It is my understanding if there was any immediate danger to the public at this point, they would have already closed the water plant down,” Thompson stated. “But this is a serious investigation and when it is completed it will go directly to the Grand Jury.”
Below, is the letter sent to Trent by the TDEC Ground Water Protection Department:
STATE OF TENNESSEE
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION
GROUND WATER PROTECTION
10th Floor, 401 Church Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
December 3, 2010
CERTIFIED MAIL 7007 0220 0000 2296 7668
RETURN RECIPT REQUESTED
256 Jim Chitwood Lane
Lafayette, TN 37083
Permit No. 406
RE: Sewage Disposal Violation on Chitwood Road, Map 31, Parcel 26.08, Macon County
ORDER OF PERMIT REVOCATION
Dear Mr. Trent:
On December 1, 2010, staff with the Department of Environment and Conservation visited your property in response to an anonymous complaint. Upon arriving at the site, we identified locations where septage (contents of septic tanks) has been illegally discharged. The manner in which this septage has been discharged is in violation of T.C.A. 68-221-406 (a)(6) which identifies “engaging in the business of removing wastes from subsurface sewage disposal systems and disposing of such wastes in any place or manner that does not meet the approval of the commissioner” as an unlawful act. Specifically, septage generated through your septic tank pumping business has been directly discharged onto your property on Jim Chitwood Road. The volume and frequency of this activity was evident in that the ground was covered with residue at a number of locations and at one location in particular the volume and frequency have been such that the septage covered the ground for approximately 100 yards and was observed flowing directly in to Spring Creek. Your 2010 Pumper Contractor Permit application indicated that the City of Lafayette Wastewater Treatment Facility would be the disposal location for the septage generated by your business.
You are hereby notified and advised that your Permit No. 406 to engage in the business of removing and disposing of domestic septage from septic tanks, holding tanks, portable toilets, or other similar sewage treatment or disposal facilities in Tennessee is REVOKED for failure to comply with the Tennessee Subsurface Sewage Disposal System Law, 68-221-401-418-et seq. Tennessee Code Annotated 68-221-401-418-et seq and regulations promulgated thereto.
If you wish to contest the revocation of your permit, you have the right to appeal and request in writing a hearing before the Commissioner or the duly authorized representative. This hearing will be conducted pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 4-5-301 et seq and Rules 1360-1-1 et seq. You have the right to represented by counsel at such hearing. Free or low-cost counsel may be available from the Legal Services offices or local bar associations for persons who qualify for such services.
Your written request for a hearing must be filed within thirty (30) days of your receipt of this letter. If you fail to file a written request for a hearing within thirty (30) days, this action will become final and not subject to further review. Such requests should be sent, in written form to:
Britton Dotson, Director
Division of Ground Water Protection
10th Floor, L & C Tower
401 Church Street
Nashville, TN 37243
Division of Ground Water Protection
cc: Macon County Department of Environment and Conservation
Cookeville Regional Environmental Field Office
City of Lafayette, TN, Wastewater Treatment Facility
District Attorney’s Office, District 15, Hartsville, TN