Macon County commissioners voiced concern this week over a proposed sewer treatment plant that would discharge into the Little Tennessee River just across the state line in Georgia.
The river, considered an environmental treasure and a future source of drinking water, flows north through Franklin and on to Lake Fontana
“As the county adjacent to and directly downstream from the proposed Rabun County facility we have significant concerns about the impact of this project on the water quality in the Little Tennessee watershed on both sides of the state border,” Macon wrote in a letter to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division states.
Rabun County, Ga., needs a discharge permit to convert the closed-down Fruit of the Loom plant into a sewer treatment plant. While a written public comment period was held on the permit, Macon commissioners called for a formal public hearing in their letter.
The letter also states that the river is listed as polluted in Georgia and North Carolina and potential further degradation must be approached carefully.
The town of Franklin also has plans in the works to use the river as an alternative source of drinking water, the letter states.
“There are many questions we would like the opportunity to discuss,” the letter states.
The application process for a permit provides holding a public hearing if there is sufficient public interest. Commissioner Bobby Kuppers, who brought the issue forward, said he believes there is enough public interest to warrant a public hearing.
The Little Tennessee Watershed Association has been leading a public campaign over the past month encouraging the public to send comments on the permit. The environmental group previously spoke at a commissioners meeting about the issue.